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JUNK BOX: FUJII, TAMURA, HOLLENBECK


Cloudy Then Sunny (2008)


Must Have \ Stef, Free Jazz

gThis sort of devil-may-care approach to improvisation pervades Cloudy Then Sunny. How can you resist tunes with names like Computer Virus, Opera By Rats and Alligators Running in the Sewers?h \ Steve Greenlee, Jazz Times

gJunk Box is a group that takes ensemble dynamics to great creative heights. Fujiifs writing here is full of bluster and agitation that nonetheless retains moments of great melodic beauty, usually by way of concise, pertly pretty motifs that trumpeter Tamura plays in between bursts of withering roars that often dissolve into austere overtones.h  ⎯ Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise

gAll the individuals in the trio are free to respond to her directions musically in whatever way they feel moved. This results in a sequence of programmatic pieces, which is rather unusual in jazz.h \ Phillip McNally, Cadence

gResolving the clash between rough and gentle voicing, staccato and legato pitches also characterize Junk Boxfs Cloudy Then Sunny. A composer-arranger, Fujii explores new territory on this CD.h ⎯ Ken Waxman, Jazz Word

gTheir sound has edge and is admirably modern.h ⎯ Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

gTheir music develops to cross and crash with the impulse of creation and destruction.h  ⎯ CD Journal

gThe compositions show a proclivity to take risks and articulate their responses while working at a level that only seasoned performers have the strong bearings to execute. If strength was measured by the level of creativity in onefs performance, the weight of Junk Boxfs bar-bells would break recordsc The resources of the musicians seem to be bottomless, delving into the massive bandwidth of the triofs imaginations and the reservoir of their influences.h
\ Susan Frances, Jazz Review

gThe second release by Junk Box is as tough and intense as their debut. This one affords a great opportunity to hear Fujii stretch out. But therefs a good deal of composition, much of it designed to facilitate the groupfs rousing playingc Ever more raucous, inventive, varied and moody, Junk Box is growing with each release.h\ Jason Bivins, Signal To Noise

gI would like to say Junk Boxfs second CD is like a colorful picture book; the 11 pieces are like music for short animated films. They are made by masters, each with movement and colorc. It is so delightful.h  ⎯ Kazutomi Aoki, CD Journal

gReaching beyond mere notes into pure texture and mood, the three musicians interpret similar concepts from different perspectives, lending a cohesive sensibility to their free explorations, culminating in rich collective storytellingc Cloudy Then Sunny incorporates a variety of textures, ranging from caustic to ethereal.h ⎯ Troy Collins, All About Jazz

gFor those willing to take the trip along with Junk box, to listen with the same open ears and mind with which the music was created, the rewards are great and the experience liberatingc Cloudy Then Sunny has an immediacy and a vibrancy that comes directly from the triofs instantaneous interactions, decisions and choices. Once inside itfs world, the music is extremely powerful.h \ Budd Kopman, All About Jazz

gCom-impro gets its due, but intuition and empathy have the final say.h \ Jerry DfSouza, All About Jazz

gIt is an unusual side to the pianist and an enormously fun one at that.h  ⎯ Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz

gWhile listening to Junk Box, the momentous feeling that the music created from daily life continuously reverberated inside me.h  ⎯ Manabu Yuasa, Studio Voice

gJunk Box is her most open project, with piano and drums falling back and forth on the rhythm while Tamurafs muted sobs and sputtered screams wander in between. Itfs an unusual side to the pianist and an enormously fun one at thatc Tamura and Fujii are always worthy of attention, but this latest round is an especially good harvest.h
\ Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz New York

gThis one has its amazing moments.h \ Tom Hull, On The Web

gNatsuki is especially rambunctious and never ceases to amaze us with the wide variety of odd sounds that he gets from his trumpet. One of the most engaging goutsideh records Ifve heard in recent memory, yet completely focused and most often marvelous beyond ordinary words.h  ⎯ Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

gIf you are able to check your expectations at the door and let this crew be your sonic guide, your journey through the avant-garde will be a rewarding one.h \ Chris Spector,  Midwest Record

gThis trio consists of three of the most creative musicians on the scene today. The music is dynamic and at times chaotic. But the precision of the changes and interaction between the musicians differentiates their music from just a free jam session.h \ D. Oscar Groomes, Ofs Place


Fragment (2006)


JJA 2006 Top 10 \Jerry DfSouza

CODA Top Ten of 2006 \ Bill Barton

CD Journal 2006: Best 5 CDs \Manabu Yuasa

gFujii pounds out thick piano chords, while sidekick Natsuki Tamurafs surly trumpet adds tension and growl, and drummer John Hollenbeck referees.h \ Tom Hull, The Village Voice

gJunk Box here essays a collection of cutting-edge Free Jazz pieces, filtered through the decidedly Japanese sounding aesthetic of Fujii who penned all the piecesc I found Fragment to be a satisfying albumc that holds up well with repeated listening.h \ David Kane, Cadence

gFujii is an aggressively percussive, frequently explosive pianist. The sheer power of her attack is one of the more surprising aspects of this music. Tamurafs approach is well-suited to it – a tough, lashing and declamatory style.c a sense of bristling energy demanding release is never far away.h \ Julian Cowley, The Wire

 gJapanfs top husband-and-wife avant-jazz partnership has teamed up with drummer Hollenbeck to form a new trio devoted to the art of gcom-impro,h or composed improvisation. Taking pianist Fujiifs partially arranged themes as the springboard for wildly inventive extemporisations, this album bursts with ideas – touching on cerebral, Braxton-esque pseudo classicism; boisterous, AACM-style free-jazz; scenic improv atmospherics; and even the humorous, post-modern genre-bending of Hollenbeckfs Claudia Quintet. Fujiifs left hand is the driving forcec Cool and clever.h
\ Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise

 gJunk Box is an experimental trio. The freeform music made with this unusual instrumental combination ranges from colorfully sensitive to nervously edgy, simultaneously exclamatory and searchingc the music is fresh and well performed. Fragment contains some of Hollenbeckfs best playing in a free context, making this Japanese import worth seeking out.h \ Martin Patmos, Modern Drummer

gThis recording never ages. Fujii has found a veritable fountain of youthc Fujii and her trio take on the world and release impressions that can be interpreted any way you like. The program comes with many pleasant surprises and calls for repeated listening. Fragment comes highly recommended.h \ Jim Santella, All About Jazz

 gTruly, this is one of the worldfs most interesting piano trios.h \ Kazue Yokoi, Improvised Music (Japan)

gFragment interprets everyday images and experiences with keen awareness and humor.h
\ Virginia A. Schaefer, All About Jazz

gThere is interplay filled with immediacy and sense of humor. Ifm afraid to say this after all these years, but she is one of the best descendants of the Chicago avant-garde of the 70s. This is true jazz filled with dreams and hopes.h
\ Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

 gThey utilize special effects created with their instruments and put in a lot of sense of humor. Some tunes appear to be toy boxes, but their contents will turn out to be bombs!h \ Mark Rappaport, Music Magazine (Japan)

gIt must be a daunting job to be the third wheel in a trio with the likes of Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura. Percussionist John Hollenbeck rises to it, thoughc Fujiifs prepared piano and Hollenbeck and Tamurafs quiet extended technique become an organic whole, sounding oddly electronic at times although the group is billed as being acoustic onlyc Hollenbeck, too, is an imaginative and subtle composer. He doesnft try to stand out, at times disappearing altogether to allow Fujiifs compositions to show through. And they do. Fragment is yet another set of strong pieces well-played by the startlingly prolific pianist.h \ Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz, New York

gShe stirs up everyday images rather than indulge in highbrow expression or soupy emotioncvisual fragments guide the listeners into the stories buried at the bottom of memories.h \ CD Journal (Japan)

gFujiifs diverse, open-ended compositions veer from AACM-inspired textural explorations to violent, free rhythmic exchanges, making Fragment full of surprisesc Satoko Fujii, who typically traffics in dark, stark impressionism, varies her compositional style here, alternating agitated and vivacious pieces with probing, introspective fare. Stepping beyond her notable skills as an arranger, Fragment shines extra light on her singular skills as an improviser in this intimate and rewarding setting.h \ Troy Collins, All About Jazz

 gNow settle down for the sound of surprise. As always, with the Fujii/Tamura teaming, suspended expectations are a mustc Trumpeter Tamura is, well, himself  \ which means youfll never know whatfs coming nextc Fujii is also predictably unpredictable, gentle and pensive one second, frantic and fractured the next, while Hollenbeck slips his multi-hued percussion into the mix with a remarkable finesse. Fragment moves the Fujii/Tamura vision ahead another step.h \ Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

 gAnother Satoko Fujii album – shefs working at a rate that rivals Vandermark or Braxton in the f70s. Nothing lets up even when they slow down.h \ Tom Hull, TomHull.com

gJunk Box was new to us but its members are familiar on the free jazz scene. (All) are well-known avant garde musicians and they gel well as a trioc Fujii wrote all of the music and leaves enough air to allow each musicianfs thoughts to surface. Overall, we found this session to be more than just free improvisation; it made sense.h \ D. Oscar Groomes, Ofs Place

gOn Fragment, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura entangles an organic sound with trickery and creativity, without any noticeable use of electronicsc Tamura abets pianist Satoko Fujiifs newly fashioned gcom-improh concept: composed improvisation. And with percussionist John Hollenbeck injecting radiance, timbre and crunching backbeats, the trio revels within semi-structural componentsc Invention accelerates at full-throttle speed on Fragmentc Required listening.h \ Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

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