Satoko Fujii Quartet | Minerva | Libra Records

libra records 204-007

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

Recorded on April 24, 2002 by Mike Mariciano at Systems Two, NYC. Mastered by Tatsuya Yoshida.

Tracklist: 1. Tatsu Take [8:38] 2. Warp [12:20] 3. Selvedge [4:12] 4. Weft [12:40] 5. Caught in a web [12:11]

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Minerva | libra records

Satoko Fujii Quartet | from the left, Takeharu Hayakawa, Tatsuya Yoshida, Natsuki Tamura, Satoko Fujii | Photo by Toru Sasaki

The Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii

sure took her followers by surprise with Vulcan, the first album by her quartet. Minerva pushes things a bit further down the rocky road without crossing over to the extremes of Toh-Kichi, her live duo set with Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida. This second opus features the same lineup: Yoshida, bassist Takeharu Hayakawa, and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura. If it moves further away from the avant-garde jazz of Fujii’s trio than Vulcan did, it packs less of a punch, mostly because of a somewhat weaker sound. The drums remain too low in the mix, and when Hayakawa steps on the distortion pedal, the bass should roar instead of fizzing out like this. The album begins with “Tatsu Take,” a quirky and light composition by Tamura (the other four are by Fujii). If you forget the fact that it fades in awkwardly, it works out very well. Then comes “Warp,” menacing with its heavy bass riff, reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s “Filthy Habits.” Yoshida pitches in some of his trademark vocals, but more importantly drums the tune all the way to hell. In contrast, “Weft” includes a swinging piano solo. The closer, “Caught in a Web,” consists of a free-form first half dominated by some of the drummer’s most delicate work to date and Tamura’s bubbling interventions, before moving into the metrically challenging theme and variations. More convincing in its fusion of avant jazz and avant-prog idioms but less riveting sonically, Minerva still has quite a ride to offer if you dare step inside. — François Couture

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Minerva | libra records

Satoko Fujii

Top 15 CDs of 2003 ― Thomas Schulte, Outsight

Top 10 CDs of 2003 ― Jim Santella, Cadence

Satoko Fujii, one of the most original pianists in free jazz, has yet another winner with Minerva. ― Steve Greenlee, Boston Globe

As usual, Fujii’s most recent discs ― the propulsive Bell the Cat! with her American trio and the searing Minerva with her Japanese quartet ― feature the pianist as a sympathetic band leader, inventive composer and compelling improviser. ― Sam Prestianni, Jazziz

Yoshida and Hayakawa practically dare Fujii and her trumpet playing husband, Natsuki Tamura, to deal with it. They respond firmly but with sensitivity, and this is the contrast that gives Minerva its electric temperament. ― Aaron Steinberg, JazzTimes

Post-Cecil Taylor pianistic complexity is juxtaposed with rock rhythms and hypnotic, minimal bass riffs… An awesome recording. ― Andy Hamilton, The Wire

Offers a fresh approach to improvised and music and features some outstanding solo work by both Fujii and Tamura. Adventuresome and rewarding. ― Stuart Kremsky, International Association of Jazz Record Collectors Journal

“**** Four stars. Immediately engaging…At times angular and jagged, at other powerful and vigorous but always lyrical and intelligent. The opening track, ‘Tatsu Take’ and its follower ‘Warp,’ are serious pieces of ‘take no prisoners’ jazz-rock… Minerva was of course, the goddess of thunder. Appropriate, somehow. ― Duncan Heining, Jazzwise (UK)

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Minerva | libra records

Takeharu Hayakawa

Since the mid-90s, pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter (and husband) Natsuki Tamura have released a series of albums that have been challenging and diverse… All of these recordings have pointed to two musicians with solid command of their instruments and explorative musical natures… And then there’s Fujii’s piano, which is the main reason to listen to a Satoko Fujii record. Minerva features some of her most aggressive playing. She’s all over the piano with dense clusters and bold clashing dissonances. Her meditative solo introductions… are rare moments of calm (and truly beautiful) in an otherwise wild and stormy journey…With Minerva this group has found its voice. ― Robert Iannapollo, Signal To Noise

Satoko Fujii made a powerful impression with her combination of classical training, improvising experiments, and remarkable empathy with her trumpeter husband Natsuki Tamura (when she came to Britain)… (On Minerva) there’s plenty of abrupt, slamming percussion, giving way to Fujii’s astonishing high-energy clusters, dark, baleful funk, hammering runs and minimalist ripples. Tamura’s mournful whoops and sighs build into free-jazz scuttles and flurries, and some exquisite slow reveries from the leader that confirm how personally she extends the language of contemporary improvisation out of jazz roots. ― John Fordham, The Guardian (London)

This new quartet endeavor is amazing… Opening with Natsuki’s ‘Tatsu Take,’ the quartet explodes right from the first note – tight, ferocious, complex Zappa or Ruins-like intricate stop-on-a-dime composing and playing… Satoko’s Quartet at their best. ― Downtown Music Gallery

One of the most exciting aspects of this collaboration, perhaps the source for its edge, is the presence and blending of these contrasting styles… The quartet is a surprisingly cohesive, yet unpredictable unit… unbridled energy and an infectious unpredictability… vibrant and furious. ― Jay Collins, Cadence

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Minerva | libra records

Natsuki Tamura

Fujii’s compositions are good and her piano playing beautiful, as always… it works. ― Kurt Gottschalk, Squidsear

There always has been someone who exudes the atmosphere of the time. When I turned around and took a look at the world of jazz, I found a person who leads exactly that kind of existence: Satoko Fujii… Ever-changing structures and mazy developments of songs pull the listeners into the unknown space and they will find themselves surrounded by overwhelming masses of sound and totally flushed with excitement… It would be safe to say that this is the ultimate mixture-music created by the succession of sparks of improvisations. ― Masayuki Baba, Musee

Their performances are wild but serious… The music lingers on in my mind like the repetition of aftershocks. ― Masahiro Imai, Musen to Jikken

Satoko Fujii is one of those rare artists who feels comfortable with her music and the people supporting her. Minerva is another in a series of great recordings guaranteed to take you on an unforgettable journey with many surprises along the way. ― Randy McElligott,

Tamura can triple tongue with a Lee Morgan-like vigor and spit out pistol-cracking notes with the best of them, while Fujii’s high intensity, syncopated tremolos suggest a highly strung Bill Evans or Paul Bley… Both CDs provide many more — and newer — reasons to follow closely anything the two create. ― Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly

Minerva is a true surreal delight, an adventure in free jazz that will capture the listening audience with its colorful, intimate, and imaginative musings. This is an incredibly brilliant collection from composer/pianist Satoko Fujii. ― Lee Prosser,

Theirs is an impassioned approach to free jazz allied with certain rock sensibilities. It works. Try it. ― Paul Donnelly,

Her discs are almost always a treat and this is another strong one…― S.D. Feeney, Face Magazine

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Minerva | libra records

Tatsuya Yoshida

As the song develops and reaches to its climax, the listener would notice that the previous notes have been functioning as parts of the whole ensemble. That’s why her songs can maintain the attention throughout the performances no matter how long they would last, and that’s where I can find her compositional skills and brilliance of her concepts. ― Akisada Anzai, Music Magazine

Satoko Fujii is a fine percussive-yet-lyrical pianist out of the McCoy Tyner/Marilyn Cripsell/Don Pullen mode… Ms. Fujii’s piano is on-the-money as usual: punchy, pretty, driving and economical. ― Mark Keresman,

Tatsuya Yoshida, ex of prog-punk band Ruins, attacks the drums with a beboppper’s verve and a headbanger’s killer instinct on this avant-garde jazz-rock CD. At times these musicians are like battling samurai, at others they’re knife-wielding master chefs, making a sonic soufflé from seemingly lean ingredients… you should check out how it all unfolds. ― Will Romano, Modern Drummer

Vivid emotion and imagination. The human touches of the performers are just wonderful. ― Hiraku Aoki, Asahi Newspaper

In the compositions of Fujii I can feel a strong will which would parallel that of a marathon runner who strongly believes in his cardiopulmonary functions no matter how stale the air becomes… I was, again, totally fascinated by her devotion to the serious music by transcending the sense of fashion… 9 points out of 10. ― Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

Fujii’s talent seems to lie more in the tough imagination that can expand elastically than in her vital performances. ― Kazutomi Aoki, CD Journal

Fujii’s compositions are all interesting. Her wildness is often mistakenly related to “free” music, but the world she creates is the result of the natural fermentation of her imagination. She doesn’t just follow the conventional manner. People should realize the importance of her attitude… ― Kazutomi Aoki, Jazz Life

Satoko Fujii Quartet | Minerva | libra records


CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)

$ 16.00
Out of Stock

Leave a Review

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.