Satoko Fujii Quartet | Angelona | Libra Records

libra records 204-014

Satoko Fujii – piano | Natsuki Tamura – trumpet | Takeharu Hayakawa – bass | Tatsuya Yoshida – drums

Recorded and mixed by Katsumi Shigeta on November 11, 2004 at Epicurus Studio, Tokyo. Mastered by Scott Hull on December 2, 2004 at Hit Factory, NYC. Art direction, artwork and design: Stereociti S/C. Photos: Toro Sasaki

Tracklist: 1. An Alligator in Your Wallet [6:48] 2. Collage – in the night [13:25] 3. A Poor Sailor [5:55] 4. A Journey into the West [7:29] 5. Cicada [12:39] 6. A Brick House [10:00]

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Angelona | libra records

Forming a progressive alliance of jazz and rock

Satoko Fujii unleashes Angelona with a flash-bang authority that grabs you hard and fast. It’s her quartet’s best performance to date. While Vulcan (2001) was named after the Roman god of fire, Minerva (2003) was named after the Roman goddess of wisdom, and Zephyros (2004) was named after the Greek god of the west wind, this one contains an allure that applies to all audiences. Angelona’s program represents a collage of musical ideas that spans the entire world of contemporary music.

Angelona, a goddess of secrecy, represents the power that Fujii has injected into her compositions. Her piano surges with an intimidating percussive force that carries you away on golden rails. The impressionistic landscape turns in many directions, allowing the listener to interpret at will. Aside from her intriguing musical ideas and the freedom that her quartet exhibits, one thing sets the ensemble apart from the rest: its spirit. Fujii’s piano pushes and pulls, cajoling her quartet with basic musical elements, all finely tuned through experience.

Electric bassist Takeharu Hayakawa lends an exciting presence that dominates the session with powerful throbs. Drummer Tatsuya Yoshida propels the unit with sparks of rhythmic anxiety. Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura provides a beautiful tone with creative strokes that feed the ensemble, while Fujii fashions her musical interpretations through an intricately woven web of silk. Together, the four artists combine fire and ice, balancing their effusive performance with lovely melodic statements and a rhythmic groove.

While Angelona represented secrecy applied to the body of mythological beliefs of an ancient society, Angelona comes to us with wide-open expression through Satoko Fujii’s progressive ensemble.”– Jim Santella, All About Jazz

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Angelona | libra records

This album is f***ing wild.

Part free jazz a la Zorn, part experimental rock, Satoko’s improvisatory collection is wonderfully chaotic, percussive and dissonant. That is, when she isn’t laying down dark and delicate harmonies, like in the opening to “collage – in the night,” a composition that streams off her kinetic piano melodies and builds with flowing, Maria Schneider-esque grandeur. Whether she’s furiously smacking the piano around or gently caressing harmonies out of it, Satoko uses the full tonal and dynamic range of the instrument, and it’s an exhilarating thing to hear. Named for the ancient goddess of secrecy, Angelona indeed feels mythical, as well as raw, transcendent, and wonderful. ― Michael Gallant, Keyboard Magazine

Fujii, who divides her time between the Apple and Japan, has released over two dozen CDs since 1992, each different from the others and each outstanding…Angelona once again shows trumpeter Tamura, [Fujii’s] husband and a crafty composer himself, to be her ideal interpreter. ― Francis Davis, The Village Voice

There’s enough energy on this CD to power a small town – as you’d rightly expect of musicians of such world-class stature. Husband and wife team Tamura and Fujii are key figures in the Japanese avant-garde, while bassist Hayakawa has played with John Zorn, and drummer Yoshida is an erstwhile Derek Bailey collaborator better known as one half on thrash-prog duo Ruins. Together, they whip up a dense, fiery brew of free-jazz and freak-rock that sounds like the missing link between Cecil Taylor and Frank Zappa. ― Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise

On Angelona, pianist Satoko Fujii documents her well-honed Japanese quartet for their fourth release as a unit. What makes this quartet so exciting is its turn-on-a-dime tendencies borne from an almost innate ability to contemplate each player’s next direction. This simpatico relationship works well for their bustling blend of Jazz, Rock, and elements of Improvised Music, but to be sure, this six-song program is a well-crafted exercise borne from Fujii’s diverse and uncompromising pen. Angelona makes one think and plays with expectations though every twist and turn. ― Jay Collins, Cadence

…Angelona is a fascinating combination of avant-garde jazz and progressive rock… The piano melodies are complex and speedy, reminiscent of 70’s fusioneers and art-rockers like Chick Corea and Rick Wakeman. Meanwhile, Tamura slurs his lines, blurting notes through distortion and wah-wah pedals. ― Phil Freeman, Global Rhythm

One might think of this group as pianist/composer Fujii’s ‘rock’ band, given the presence of electric bassist Takeharu Hayakawa and drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, known for his work with the Ruins. And, while the music on Angelona is in your face, the working methods are much more closely related to jazz than they are to rock… Fujii’s sound world is a kaleidoscope, and those familiar with her work have come to expect the unexpected. If any artist can be said to meet expectations by upsetting them, she’s one. ―Mike Chamberlain, Coda

First of all, these compositions interwoven by different odd meters by Fujii, whose piano style is sweet and strong, are quite stimulating. The performance that sounds brisk and lets the compositions evolve dynamically and thrillingly is both edgy and mild. With noble congruence and grooves, their music creates some jazz-rock kind of mood. I become intoxicated by the restless waves this graceful performance, featuring solos of all the members, generates. ― Mark Rappaport, Music Magazine (Japan)

Sakoto does a great job of writing challenging, quick-changing, progressive/jazz/rock music that this daredevil quartet excels at playing… As always, Sakoto Fujii and her extraordinary quartet deliver the goods and keep all of us smiling. ― Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery in NYC

The aggressive trumpet of Natsuki Tamura, always stout bass and drums of Takeharu Hayakawa and Tatsuya Yoshida respectively, and the straightforward piano and compositions by the leader Satoko Fujii are all uncompromising. They don’t bother to turn on the charm in front of the audience. But there surely are melodies that people can hum. There might be no more than one band whose weight is comparable to this quartet: Led Zeppelin. ― Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Angelona | libra records


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