Natsuki Tamura – trumpet | Satoko Fujii – piano
Recorded on July 2, 2008 by Joe Marciano assisted by Max Ross at Systems Two, NY. Mastered on July 7, 2008 by Randy Merrill at Scott Hull Mastering, NY. Executive producer: Natsuki Tamura. Artwork: Ichiji Tamura. Design: Masako Tanaka. Photo: Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net
Tracklist: 1. Tokyo Rush Hour [3:20] 2. Nudibranch [5:28] 3. Infrared [2:18] 4. Chun [2:50] 5. Stone Flowers [5:41] 6. Curt Response [4:53] 7. Ultraviolet [2:33] 8. Spiral Staircase [5:16] 9. Triangle [21:41]
I don’t like boiled eggs, but I like them scrambled.
I don’t like cheese, but I like pizza.
I hate practicing, but I love to perform live.
Yet for the past few years, Satoko Fujii has been writing works that force me to practice a lot. They are full of odd time signatures that change every measure or two.
Her sounds leap about dramatically.
She will utter casual requests — “play it as a slur” – that make a trumpeter’s life miserable.
No matter how many live gigs I play, every one is a thrill.
But I have never once played these tunes flawlessly (sorry).
Perhaps that adds a bit of a thrill for the audience too?
I hope you’ll come to one of our live performances and see for yourself.
Honorable Mention ― Jazz Consumer Guide, The Village Voice
Best CD of the Year – Wayne Zade, Jazz Tokyo
2008 Top 10 ― Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
Must Have for 2008 ― Vallejonocturno
List of Excellent New Music – Free Jazz (Japan)
Must Have ― Stef, Free Jazz
“**** Fujii’s orchestral technique, clear chromatic lines and “prepared piano” devices contrast effectively with Tamura’s arsenal of extended techniques which he executes with a warm, vocalized tone throughout the trumpet’s full range. ― Ted Panken, DownBeat
Husband and wife duets, his trumpet warm and supportive, her piano stark and brash. ― Tom Hull, The Village Voice
Chun features the husband and wife in a program composed by Fujii that allows them to interact and let loose.― Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant
The music of Chun is adventurous, rigorous, and thoroughly engrossing. It’s another irresistible outing by Fujii and Tamura.” – Stuart Kremsky, The IAJRC Journal
Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii work in a variety of ensemble configurations, but their duet discs are particularly enriching listening experiences. ― Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
Another brilliant document in the growing discography of one of today’s most important composers, Chun is a stellar document by two musicians whose sensitive interplay knows no bounds. — Troy Collins, All About Jazz
What sets this apart from a lot of modern ‘energy music’ is the obvious fact that Tamura and Fujii are also engaged in an exercise in very deep listening. Musical thoughts come together as they construct a pulsing wall of sound, then attempt to smash it to bits. — Mark Saleski, Jazz.com
When Satoko holds the pedal down, we hear layers of shimmering chords and feel like we are at the bottom of the ocean. On ‘Infrared,’ the duo swirls quick lines of notes around one another mischievously. There is a consistent connection of spirits here as both musicians work perfectly together… Chun is yet another gem from the wonderful Fujii/Tamura team. — Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
In which Fujii gets in touch with her Yoko Ono side and expresses herself through her long running improv duo finding her piano working out against a trumpet as the two play, push, cajole and lock horns throughout. ― Chris Spector, Midwest Record
Perhaps because they’re involved in so many other projects, when they come back to the duo, it still sounds fresh and inventive… There’s a lot of textural variety in these tracks as well… an almost telepathic communication between these two when they are in a duet situation. ― Robert Iannapollo, All About Jazz
Fujii’s music is a delicious mix of opposites: melody and pure sounds, intense energy and calm introspection, audible flowing structure and freedom, to name a few. There is joy, fearlessness and not a little humor in her performances, allowing them to be approached from any number of angles; she pours herself completely into every note… Chun opens up another viewpoint into the highly creative world of Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura. — Budd Kopman, All About Jazz
Fujii is as creative as ever with her compositions. The dynamics and pace hit extremes and the melodies are very challenging. — D. Oscar Groomes, O’s Place
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
Chun is one of seven new albums released in 2008 by tireless Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii in celebration of her fiftieth birthday. Issued concurrently with Sanrei (BKM), by her Orchestra Nagoya, and Summer Suite (Libra), by her Orchestra New York, Chun is the fourth duet session Fujii has recorded with her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura.
Fujii and Tamura have honed their empathetic rapport in a variety of settings over the past decade, from the massed ensembles of the aforementioned Orchestras to the spare confines of this acoustic duo. Despite the double billing, all of the tunes are penned by Fujii, whose expansive writing offers a rich array of dynamic contrasts. The most intricate endeavors weave turbulent unison lines through labyrinthine themes; the more ethereal fare relies on the duo’s sensitive interpretive abilities to provide them with formal constraints.
Fujii and Tamura’s vigorous interplay and bracing virtuosity electrifies the rousing opener, “Tokyo Rush Hour,” as they tackle the tune’s coiled theme with neoclassical flair, deconstructing the core melody with fervid enthusiasm. The title track and “Spiral Staircase” follow suit, with brisk tempos and knotty cadences that border on the baroque. Thorny lines reveal a bounty of creative possibilities as Fujii’s incisive arpeggios and Tamura’s blustery runs craft harsh angles into dramatic contours. “Infrared” is the culmination of this approach, Tamura’s trilled fanfares inspire Fujii’s coruscating salvos to unfettered abandon.
“Nudibranch,” “Stone Flowers” and “Curt Response” resound with lyrical restraint and conversational empathy, punctuated by interludes of pungent expressionism. Tamura’s melancholy whispers compliment Fujii’s muted chords as she plies harrowing harmonic variations on “Nudibranch” and he elicits pillowy glisses on “Stone Flowers.” “Ultraviolet” abandons traditional structure altogether, unveiling a delicate tone poem of hushed insectoid textures.
The album’s exotic, episodic finale, the 21 minute “Triangle” opens with scintillating gamelan-like tones and metallic textures, generated by Fujii’s hands-on manipulation of her piano strings. Tamura’s ghostly cries exacerbate the haunting atmosphere, building to plangent refrains which Fujii works into sinuous variations before concluding the tune with a rousing bout of pneumatic free improvisation.
Another brilliant document in the growing discography of one of today’s most important composers, Chun is a stellar document of two musicians whose sensitive interplay knows no bounds.
With seemingly endless energy and a bottomless well of inspiration, pianist Satoko Fujii continues to celebrate her fiftieth birthday year with three new recordings, all three simultaneously released on Libra. Chun, a duo recording with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, her husband and musical partner and two big band releases, one West and the other East—Summer Suite (New York) and Sanrei (Nagoya).
Fujii’s music is a delicious mix of opposites: melody and pure sound, intense energy and calm introspection, audible flowing structure and freedom, to name a few. There is joy, fearlessness and not a little humor in her performances, allowing them to be approached from any number of angles; she pours herself completely into every note, crash and gesture played on the piano’s inside or its keys.
Tamura is her perfect foil in that he experiments continuously with the sounds he can get out of his trumpet as well as be the leader of his own groups, in which Fujii plays, with the roles reversed. The two obviously know each other well, and, despite Tamura’s admissions that “he hates to practice,” but “…Fujii has been writing works that force me to practice a lot” and that “I have never once played these tunes flawlessly (sorry),” his playing is full of conviction and extreme sensitivity to Fujii’s every gesture.
The pieces, all by Fujii, range from those with discrete, rhythmically complex themes and clear structure (i.e. having some kind of thematic declamation-improvisation-recap) to pure soundscapes that are on the edge of notated music, including the last, twenty-one minute track, “Triangle.”
Fujii’s fearlessness demands some effort from the listener, but once inside, the inherent logic of her music as it plays out, becomes almost a comfort. The freedom is heard as an extension of, rather than a departure from, the structure. Her style creates many corners and detours, giving the music a density even in the sparser pieces.
Fujii is very much a musician of the “now” and each recording, although related chronologically to its peers, stands alone, providing a snapshot of her musical thinking at the moment. However, some compositions, like “Spiral Staircase,” appear on other albums, in this case, Heat Wave (Not Two, 2008).
The difference in the treatment of this tune between Chun and Heat Wave goes way beyond instrumentation, and provides further insight in the composition’s essentials and Fujii’s improvisational method. Listening to the two versions side-by-side is not only a lot of fun, but very informative.
Another gem in the bulging Fujii discography, Chun opens up another viewpoint into the highly creative world of Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura.