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IN THE NEWS

MIN-YOH ENSEMBLE

Live

gSatoko and her Min-Yoh Ensemble put its deep and powerful expression in this music.h \ New York Daily News

gSatoko Fujii, an adventurous pianist and composer from Japan, has worked fruitfully over the yearsch
\ Nate Chinen, New York Times

 gUltra-prolific pianist Satoko Fujii reprises one of her most striking recent projectsc Fujiifs circling pentatonic melodies and percussive attack bring gamelan to mind, while her stately themes slowly accrue density and urgency in a manner not unlike that of the Art Ensemble of Chicagofs epic gPeople in Sorrowh – and as in that 1969 masterpiece, placid surfaces are often shattered by unexpected explosions. This subtle powerhouse of an ensemble might be pianist Fujiifs most striking project.h \ Time Out New York

gThe featured band was Satoko Fujiifs Min-Yoh Ensemble. Her most lyrical performing unit, it combines her piano with Andrea Parkinsf accordion and laptop, and the brass of trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and trombonist Curtis Hasselbring.h \ Stuart Broomer, All About Jazz

gThe music varied widely, opening with a free jazz burst, then fading to moments when the music all but turned to silence, piano whisperings barely heard beneath an incessant cicada buzz, a strong breeze, and low flying aircraftc perhaps most interesting were the ethnic twists and resonances resulting for the unusual instrumental line-up and the way it was employedc the gig was a nice opportunity to see her (Fujii) at work.h \ David Grundy, Eartrip


Watershed (2011)

gMin-Yoh translates to Japanese folk music, and itfs unusually brass and accordion-based here in a thoroughly absorbing set by the prolific post-modern pianist.h \ Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise

 gWatershed doesnft sound like any kind of typical folk song, Japanese or otherwisecThe instrumentation might seem sparse on paper, but this group gets a full soundcThe blend of music and players from different eras and countries makes this the most fascinating of Fujiifs new albums.h \ Mike Shanley, JazzTimes

gBy whatever quirk of fate, or clever design (Fujii can be devious, and is encyclopedically eclectic), this album doesnft sound particularly Asian. What it sounds most like is Radiohead, beginning with its somber piano introduction, evoking the first seconds of Kid A and moving on from there.h \ Alan Young, Lucid Culture

 gA gem of musical performance: if two musicians on earth should be able to play music telepathically, it must be Fujii and Tamura. And they do. The absolute revelation in this context is the interplay with Parkins and Hasselbringc And the unique interaction, with shifting moods, genre and sub-genres is absolutely exceptional, chaos evolving into unison lines, duo shifting into trios, then other trio, and duo and back to full quartet, as if all four were just one being. So, really strong, incredibly rich music, incredibly creative too. With unheard genre-bending innovation. But you have to go deep under the surface. And be willing to.h \ Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz

 gWhatever background music might be, this is its opposite. [Fujii] forces you not just to listen, but to listen differently, to be placed into a new relation to the forces of improvised sound, and beyond that, to the very notion of improvisation.h \ Michael Pronko, Jazz in Japan

 gThe tradition of folk melody undergoes a Fujiian transformation so that it sounds like her music more than it sounds like her doing Japanese folk music\which I suppose is a great litmus testcHer feel for keeping structures in place, giving soloists a different sort of background-foreground to play off of, is one of her special talents and very much in play in a small group context such as thiscone of the most interesting treatments of Free-Folk combinations Ifve heardcVery highly recommended!h\ Grego Edwards, Cadence

gcthe confrontation of Fujiifs brash and imaginative style and the unusual instrumentation of the group with traditional-styled themes yields rich and deeply engaging music. Well worth a listen.h \ Stuart Kremsky, The IAJRC Journal

 gFujii has found the missing part of her voice in Min-Yoh, a simple folk music played and arranged by amateurs that has an uncomplicated directness and economy of communication. With her long-time musical partner, husband Natsuki Tamura, on trumpet, communication flows freely, with melodic arcs opening out of motivic patternscWatershed is enew oldf: traditional music realized by contemporary improvisers.h \ Glen Hall, Exclaim!

gFujiifs five originals bury any notions of simplicity in pounding pianos, static-like horn noises, and song forms stretched as wide as a flight from Japan to New York that resolve themselves with the rush of a jet lagc delightful.h \ John Garratt, PopMatters

 gcpure avant-garde and free-jazz mayhemc as with anything that Satoko Fujii touches, if you can stand the heat, youfll surely find plenty to quench your thirst here.h \ Pete Pardo, Sea of Tranquility

gFujiifs love of both atonality and melody, affections apparently all the better if they can be indulged simultaneouslyc But as if to show that they nonetheless understand the powerful simplicity and collective spirit of these folk musics, the final eEstuaryf is taken straight with a stately rendition of the affecting song.h \ John Sharpe, The New York City Jazz Record

 gInspired by Japanese folk music (Min-Yoh), Fujiifs quartet takes to the stuff of legends with no aim to reproduce something etraditional.f This is the folk music of complexity, of darkness and of shadows.h \ Jordan Richardson, Blinded By Sound

 gc.anything but authentic Japanese folk musicc. the sound becomes close to try-anything American folk music.h \ Ken Waxman, JazzWord

gcvery challenging and complex music, amidst quite a bit of beauty and wonder. The juxtaposition of traditional Japanese melodies and this quartetfs unusual sensibilities\even by avant-garde jazz standardsc therefs no denying the passion and virtuosity involved.h \ Dave Wayne, All About Jazz

 gThe light to moderate intensity of the music and the simple tonal structures conceal the complexity of the improvisation going on behind the curtain, but itfs that light touch which makes Watershed a delightful listen.h \ S. Victor Aaron, Something Else! Reviews

 gcpurely sophisticated folkch \ Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

gctraditional Japanese folk songs revisited, with strong lyrical leanings and lots of room for improvisationca significant step forward.h \ François Couture, Monsieur Délire

 gChristmas gift suggestions for that avant-garde lover in your lifecIf youfve ever seen one of those time-lapse videos of a tulip emerging from the frosty ground, growing, reaching upward and blooming, then youfve got a good idea of what the music on Fujiifs Min-Yoh ensemble album Watershed sounds likecWatershedfs music unfolds and develops organically.h \ Chris Robinson, Outside-Inside-Out

gThis is modern free jazz with an eerie feel.h \ D. Oscar Groomes, Ofs Place Jazz Newsletter

gWatershed opens with another version of the eThe Thaw,f and itfs realized particularly well by this instrumentation. After a splattery, noisy mid-section, Tamura and Hasselbringfs nice folk line takes them through the floating worldcthis lovely date closes with a pair of gorgeous lyrical miniatures.h \ Jason Bivins, Paris Transatlantic Magazine


Fujin Raijin (2007)

Best CD of 2007 \ Wayne Zade, Jazz Tokyo
Best CD of 2007 \ Masahiko Yuh, Jazz Tokyo
Best CD of 2007 \ Kazue Yokoi, Jazz Tokyo

gPianist Fujii and her quartet put an avant-garde spin on half a dozen min-yoh, or Japanese folk songs, building complex and mysterious soundscapes upon engaging melodies. Accordion, trumpet, and trombone provide an unusual tonal bed for Fujiifs energetic playing, and this excellent group connects on both emotional and musical levels.h \ Bob Weinberg, Jazziz

gAs heard on the 2007 album Fujin Raijin, the quartet weaves traditional Japanese min-yoh melodies into spacious, mesmerizing meditations.h \ Steve Smith, The Volume, Time Out New York

gThis valiant effort is also a difficult one, but penetrating it yields ample rewardsc the music is glorious.h\ Michael J. West, Jazz Times

 gIf one word sums up the career of husband and wife team of trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii, itfs breadthc The combination of plaintive brass themes and thumping piano made me think of Carla Bleyfs adaptations of Spanish and Latin American themes in the Liberation Music Orchestra.h
\ Bill Meyer, DownBeat

gProlific barely begins to describe the intensity with which Satoko Fujii has documented her career. The danger in such copious representation is that real gems can be overlooked all too easily. Fujin Raijin most certainly belongs in that categoryc The result is a quietly masterful album that deserves to be heard not only by Fujii devotees, but also by those that have yet to take the plunge.h \ Steve Smith, Time Out New York

gEqually dark and powerful, delicate and ethereal, Fujin Raijin opens with wistful atmospherics and complex, dissonance-tainted harmoniesc the sparse arrangements create a meditative vibe, but should not be misconstrued with laziness on the part of the composer or musicians – the albumfs intensity persists, whether youfre hearing percussive piano thrashing or clouds of high pitched accordion ambiance.h
\ Michael Gallant, Keyboard

gThroughout the program, the ensemble maintains an admirable malleability, breaking off into pairs or solo interludes that magnify the sense of spatial depth. Fujiifs productivity might seem a source of inevitable repetition, but as is so often the case in her career, she sidesteps the familiar and comes up with something new.h \ Derek Taylor, Cadence

 gFrom the opening notes, this groupfs got a sound all its own, with slow moving chords, tones slicing through, and sweet, sweet portamento from the brass. I like the sparseness of this group, not least because you can really study Fujiifs harmonic sensibility, out in the openc Just awesome, one of Fujiifs best of late.h
\ Jason Bivins, Signal To Noise

gUnderrated, accessibly leftfield Japanese pianist continues to make consistently complex but witty music as demonstrated on this new CD.h \ Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise

gFujiifs pieces unfold gradually, moving at an unhurried pace. Unimpeded by a traditional rhythm section, the quartet plies rubato rhythms with elastic finesse and regal patiencec Blending the buoyant optimistic anthems and yearning sorrow of folk music with the turbulent drama of free jazz, Fujin Raijin is a singular experiment. A fascinating record; one never expects anything less from Satoko Fujii.h \ Troy Collins, All About Jazz

gAs with every new ensemble Fujii forms, the listener encounters things theyfve never heard before – calamitous sonic assaults beside gentle yet insistent pushes that are always taking the listener, by force or guile, to new placesc As always with Fujii, expect the unexpected, and expect to be mesmerized.h
\ Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

gIf there is one thing certain in this world, it is that pianist Satoko Fujii will never stop expanding her musical horizons, nor stop amazing the listener. Fujin Raijin is a stupendous, almost terrifying record that shatters any and all expectations during its six tracksc If any music has the ability to change onefs life, this is it, making Fujin Raijin a powerful experience in which to revel.h \ Budd Kopman, All About Jazz

gAlthough some of the solos are lyrical and relatively melodic, there are also explosive moments along with passionate sound explorations.h \ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
gcthis is an intriguing world beat set that doesnft lend itself to easy descriptors. Fujii knows how to open the ears and tease them with something new and different.h \ Chris Spector, Midwest Record

gThe recording Fujin Raijin issued in 2007 is an unusual session, even in Fujiifs extensive catalog. At times sweet and nostalgic, at times lonesome or even dark, the six tracks are built from the name of a traditional form of Japanese folk music.h \ Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz

gIf your ears are after true adventure, this one comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!h
\ Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

gThere are many passages with one to few instruments playing which draws the listener into the space as a participant in the experience.h \ D. Oscar Groomes, Ofs Place



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