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SATOKO FUJII / JOE FONDA

Duet (2016)

Best of 2016 – Jerome Wilson, All About Jazz
Best of 2016 – Steve Koenig, Acoustic Levitation
Best of 2016 – Robert Bush, NBC San Diego
#2 Best Album of 2016, Music Magazine (Japan)


 “Cerebral and emotive, simultaneously atonal and mellifluous, Duet is a superb recording, created by three masters of improvisation.”  — Hrayr Attarian, Jazziz

“With the bold and luminous new album Duet, she beautifully pares down to an intimate but uncharted and wide-ranging improvisational encounter with a fellow free-zoning master, bassist Joe Fonda... the pair navigates a shifting terrain of emotionality and musical atmospheres...This music is commanding, yet infused with a wide-open spirit.” — Josef Woodard, DownBeat

 “‘Paul Bley’ is a fluid, shared invention, an exploration of each other’s special resources. There are explosions of spontaneous color, rapid-fire inventions in which Fujii explores the breadth of the keyboard accompanied by Fonda’s own explosive runs and dense ostinatos...there’s a moment of absolute reverie when Fonda turns to his flute and the two craft a spontaneous ballad that might have sprung from the imagination of Satie or Debussy....An inventive meeting, with plenty of promise for the future but already substantial achievement.” — Stuart Broomer, New York City Jazz Record

“The story behind the creation of the miraculous album, Duet by pianist Satoko Fujii and bassist Joe Fonda is one of those things that makes one a believer in karma. The duo produces astonishing musical textures that arise out of the mists...they engage in what sounds like joyous battle at times, only to swerve in a flash to produce ethereal sounds that float in mid-air. The energy flowing between them is palpable, exciting and occasionally almost unbearable.” — Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“Superbly, warm, spacious and thoroughly enchanting. The duo take their time and build from a subtle beginning, weaving their goods around one another, eventually moving into more turbulent waters. A long spirited and thoughtful dialogue between two strong players. When it finally fades away, I wish it kept going on and on.” — Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

“The degree of intimate listening and deep exchange between Fujii’s piano and the woody, natural-sounding bass of Fonda is breathtaking.” — Robert Bush, NBC San Diego

“Fujii’s profound serenity reveals her as a world-class musician.” — Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

“Two creative virtuosos join forces for the first time in a collaboration of deep artistry and mutual respect...Duet presents a dialogue well worth listening to, full of melody, dissonance, percussive bursts, and technical prowess.” — Monarch Magazine

“The conversation is intuitive, at times seemingly telepathic — and it creates an enormous amount of drama and joy. In ‘Paul Bley,’ Fujii spends a lot of time working inside the piano, dampening strings, carefully drawing sounds out of the instrument’s metal and wood. These eerie scrapes and shimmering drones, added to Fonda’s arco moans and whispers, conjure up a mysterious soundscape, a soundtrack for a tour of a netherworld.” — Steve Feeney, The Arts Fuse

“Every moment has fresh stories and rich tension, and both Fujii and Fonda develop it with deep communication…what a wonderful bassist Joe Fonda is! He has a beautiful acoustic bass sound, strong improvisational abilities, impressive technique, and deep expression…a spiritual integrity comes from the duo’s sincerity and free musical conversation.” — Masahiko Yu, Jazz Tokyo

“Fonda employs various approaches like pizzicato, bowing, body tapping, and even plays flute. Fujii expands her playing colorfully with serene phrasing and a dynamic, beautiful touch that includes playing the piano strings. Their extraordinary interplay tells a rich and tasty story.” — Kazune Hayata, Jazz Life

 “[‘Paul Bley’] is a rather epic piece, one where things do get quiet or somber, though it’s dominated by long stretches when the two come across as playful or combative or like two cats playing soccer in a small box, simultaneously frantic and working in tandem. But while the audible ‘whoa’ from someone in the audience says more than I ever could, I will note that while this wildly improvised piece veers through a variety of tones and atmospheres, its beauty is constant and flowing...it’s clear that Fujii and Fonda are on to something here.”— PaulSemel.com

“An instant composition called ‘Paul Bley’ is acutely articulated...Fujii and Fonda connect to the subtle mixture of low-key romanticism and upfront strength which often popped up like whack-a-mole pins during Bley performances. Evenly matched in staccato variations, like thoroughbreds whose winning gait includes canters as well as gallops, the two also reach unity with less rugged challenges. At junctures harpsichord-sounding hunt-and-peck motions from Fujii are smoothed into a solid, dramatic near idyllic soundscape with Fonda’s wafting bow motion, accompanied at one point by wistful flute whispers.” — Ken Waxman, JazzWord

“[Fujii and Fonda] did not need much time to establish a rare and profound musical rapport. Their mutual understanding is so immediate that you may think that they actually developed a telepathic reading of each other’s minds, created a unique sonic entity that, no doubt, would have made Bley happy. This masterful, exciting duo calls for more, many more performances and recordings.” — Eyal Hareuveni, Free Jazz Blog

“The first cut, ‘Paul Bley,’ is 37:32 seconds of powerful music, with both musicians really digging in, pushing each other to go deeper, to take musical chances - the closing moments are simply beautiful.” — Richard B. Kamins, Step Tempest

 “…a sinuous, conversational affair and the way the duo colour the lines as one reaches into the upper register of the music while the other delves into the depths of the lower register, is done with enormous subtlety. They don’t intervene in the logic or the madness that characterises Bley with rather accurate pointillism and they do so with such mesmerising effect...’JSN’ follows majesty of ‘Paul Bley’...The rhythms are bright and springy; full of energy without freneticism, and joy is palpable in every note.” — Raul da Gama, JazzdaGama

“[Paul Bley] is a twisting, turning circuitous romp through the imaginations of both participants. Her solos contain sharp angles, even sharper left turns, syncopation run amok and the kind of arpeggios that surprise and delight… Put aside all your notions of melody, harmony, rhythm and beats. Duet is here to freak you out. And it will. Just give it time.” — Mike Greenblatt, The Classical Arts

“…all the different passages, some of them strategically percussive, demonstrate a vastly committed duo in their buoyant interactions full of humor and vitality. ‘JSN.’ featuring the guest trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, conveys a complete understanding between the musicians, who know what they want and what they’re doing. This exquisite ride takes you to contemplative, turbulent, phantasmagoric, and slightly oriental wonderlands. Flourishing with creative intuition and boasting an impeccable execution, Duet unreservedly explores the powerful musical spectrums of Fujii and Fonda, in a beautiful intersection.” — Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail

“A serious bet for listeners who like jazz recitals, this is as deep as it gets. Sparks fly and the outré fan will think this is a love fest hoping it turns into a regular thing.” — Chris Spector, Midwest Record

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