Japanese


Facebook
My space

Home
Calendar
Bio
Discography
Projects Reviews
CD Store
Scores and Parts
Photos Libra Records
Mailing List Past  concerts

IN THE NEWS

SATOKO FUJII ORCHESTRA NEW YORK


Shiki (2014)

Rising Star, Big Band – 2014 Downbeat 62nd Annual Critics Poll

#2 – Matt Marshall, 2014 NPR Jazz Criticfs Poll

#3 – Josh Langhoff, 2014 NPR Jazz Criticfs Poll

Honorable Mention – Francis Davis, 2014 NPR Jazz Criticfs Poll

4-stars. gShiki is a superb epic of some thirty-six minutes that recounts the stages of life and cleverly combines the acrobatic, always inspired improvisations of free-flying soloists with melodic or furiously dissonant sequences that are distilled by the orchestra.h – Paul Jaillet, Jazzman (France)

gA true miracle that shares with us, making us part of [Fujiifs] musical magic.h – Gustavo Bustamante, JazzTimes.com

gcan exciting yet nuanced contribution to avant-garde big band jazz.h – Alex Henderson, Jazz Inside

gcfilled with sweeping and thrillingly dissonant harmonies and provocative musical ideascShiki is a frequently stirring and, in a way, curiously absorbing recordcit remains the work of one of the most ingenious musicians of our time and hencecbears the mark of her finesse and fiercely explorative spirit.h – Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz

gFujii thinks on a vast scale, and the bandfs recent opus, Shiki, presents one of her broadest accomplishments yet in the sprawling 36-minute title track that opens the discc. this is a triumph of modern big band music, powerfully brought to life by the immensely talented group.h – Stuart Kremsky, Mr. Stufs Music Room

gcsophisticated compositionscWeaving among swelling reed buzzes and brass whimpers, the soloists echo and compound passing tones until place-marking crescendos are reachedcthe sequences knit into undulating whole cloth by Fujiifs talentsch – Ken Waxman, The Whole Note

gc [Fujiifs] large ensemble music doesnft sound much like big band music anywhere elsecshe never boxes herself or her band inside artificial constraints.h – S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!

 gcclever and complex music with substance that leaves a beguiling effectcEverything lives in the musical boundaries between spontaneity and control, between anarchy and melancholy.h – Jörg Conrad, Jazz Podium (Germany)

gThe roll-call of [Fujiifs] New York band includes names any jazz fan will recognize: itfs a dream band, which has retained many of the same members for over a decadecthe orchestral sound is deep and rich.h – Tim Owen, Dalston Sound

 gTruly orchestral in its scope, Fujii wields her composer's wand in a way which largely avoids some of the expected intricacy, in favour of more opaque connections, organically developed soundscapes and ragged choruses, from which the compositional signposts unexpectedly emerge. The loose painterly style recalls the trumpeter Bill Dixon's large scale works, in that the talented cast is given ample opportunity to shape matters.h – John Sharpe, All About Jazz

gSatoko Fujii's large ensemble music is one-of-a-kindc.For avant big-band this is an outfit on the cutting edge. Well worth hearing!h – Grego Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review 

gShiki is Satoko Fujiifs ninth album with her Orchestra New York, and for the occasion shefs brought back her collection of downtown all-stars. Itfs a testament to Ms. Fujiifs tenacity and vision, and the regard which the musicians must hold for her, that shefs been able to keep a core group intact for eighteen years.h – Craig Premo, Improvised

 gPace and structure hit extremes with a loosely structured backbone that is on the edge and a good effort for lovers of free jazz.h – D. Oscar Groomes, Ofs Place

gThe bandleader and pianist Satoko Fujii is a force of naturecThe zen-like opening where the individual voices emerge from the clouds to the ecstatic bursts halfway, and the compelling ensemble passages a la Charlie Haden's Liberation Music OrchestraFujii has a formidable orchestra at her disposal - the very best that New York's downtown scene has to offer...h – Herman te Loo, JazzFlits (Netherlands)

gA musical journey well worth your time.h – Stuart Kremsky, IAJRC Journal

gSatoko Fujii is one of the most versatile and creative figures on the contemporary music scene. Since the early nineties, she has produced a body of work that is ever vast and complex, including many masterpiecescA controlled frenzy that hits.h – Angelo Leonardi, All About Jazz Italia

gA prominent personality in the international music scene, Satoko Fujiichas artistic vision enriched by inner wisdom and compositional skillca kind of jazz opera, in which a myriad of innovative ideas seem to explode in a narrative structure, capable of leaving all improvisational space, resulting in an ensemble of orchestral effects that go far beyond the standard melodic idiomscintense atmosphere and magic break down the walls of the unthinkable and inaccessible creating a surprising feeling of warmth.h – Jazz Colours Magazine (Italia)

 gFujiifs very modern music is not painted in abstraction; rather, these are combinations of realities such as perhaps have never been heard beforecitfs music free of clichésc – John Payne, Bluefat

5 stars. gSatoko Fujii is an improvisational heavyweight taking her New York Orchestra straight into the harmonic stratosphere of sound and texture. [She] has one primary focus which is to make music no one has ever heard beforecA cerebral and visceral soul shower.h – Brent Black, Bop-N-Jazz 




Eto (2011)

gEto shows that she is writing some of the most interesting and unusual big-band music today. It is modern without losing a sense of rootedness, dynamic and filled with concerto-like room for various excellent soloists in the band, it can get Free and outside in a minute, then go into another mood altogether. It is performed with precision and spirit here by New York Orchestra, none of whom have a sloppy phrase to offer. True big-band excellence and vastly superior composition make this one a knock-out!h \ Grego Edwards, Cadence

gFujii wrote four new pieces including the titular suite for an upcoming concert. Husband/trumpeter Natsuki Tamura will turn 60 years old this year and in Japan this calls for a special celebration based around the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, called eEtofc ePressure Cookerf sums up Fujiifs approach: interlocking riffs, driving rhythms and a tight band who do full justice to her imaginative conceptions, showing the benefits of a lineup barely changed since their 1997 debut.h \ John Sharpe, The New York City Jazz Record

 gRevealing new facets on repeated listens ETO balances rousing swing with probing experimentation, updating the big band tradition with inspired verve and an abiding reverence for venerable customs.h \ Troy Collins, All About Jazz

gAs an ode to turning 60, I can think of no better tribute than this. ETO is a lovingly-composed, keenly recorded piece of big band magic that features one of the most exciting, diverse suites Ifve heard in quite some time.h \ Jordan Richardson, Blinded By Sound

gSatoko Fujiifs writing for her Orchestra New York frequently feels like the work of Carl Stalling, who directed the music of Warner Brothers cartoons during its golden age.h \ Mike Shanley, JazzTimes

gcvital arrangement-wisecigniting an experimental group spontaneity.h \ Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise

 gAnd this, for me, is what raises the bar about Satoko Fujiifs use of the big band\the lack of uniformity and willingness to make the band sound as big as it really is.h \ John Garratt, PopMatters
 
gAny way you listen to it this is one of the most sensitive performances Ifve heard her New York orchestra doc you just will NOT hear improvised music like this anywhere else on the planetc I can say unequivocally that this is one of the most enjoyable (and accessible) large-scale improv groups Ifve listened to in 2011.h \ Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

gItfs not an orchestra that swings so much as it swerves, and the sheer size of the band creates inertia that makes every little shift create a seismic tremor. In contrast to Fujiifs wild and wooly (and totally fun) Tokyo Orchestra, the New York crew delivers its surprises with a Manhattan sophistication that does George Russell proudcETO is a perfect example of why even though I canft listen through many large orchestra recordings for more than one go around, I can play Fujii Orchestra recordings all day long.h \ S. Victor Aaron, Something Else! Reviews

gTamura and Fujiifs subtly connecting additions to an existing band plan demonstrate how novel conceptions can fit in with those from an existing improvising ensemble. Parker, Bennink, Smith and Michener do the same on the other fine CDs.h \ Ken Waxman, The Whole Note

gFujiifs Orchestra New York is in simply crackling form on EtocThe suite moves like a whirlwind, and the discfs closing bookend consists of two fine workouts, the raging ePressure Cooker,f which shows that this Orchestra can deal with groove-based materials really creatively and elegantly, and finally the graceful, lilting eStroll.fh \ Jason Bivins, Paris Transatlantic Magazine

gFujiifs subtle command of orchestral dynamics is evident from the startcETO is a superb, vividly nuanced album, and too detailed for background listening; but get hooked in, and its 59f30h passes in a heartbeat.h \ Tim Owen, Dalston Sound

gFujii deploys her talent in writing complex works full of punch, twists and incredible talentcHeartily recommended.h \ François Couture, Monsieur Délire

gChristmas gift suggestions for that avant-garde lover in your lifecEtocis an excellent big band disc\not so out so as to be inaccessible, yet forward looking enough to set itself apart from the more contemporary and mainstream big bands out there.h \ Chris Robinson, Outside-Inside-Out

gcexuberant, boisterously funnyccinematicch \ Alan Young, Lucid Culture

gThe multi-faceted Fujii continues to seem like shefs continuing in the footsteps of Carla Bley with all her different sidescthis is cerebral, sitting down jazz that progressive tastes will love.h \ Chris Spector, Midwest Record

 gFrom gentle jazz, to moments of bizarre avant-garde, as well as frightening free-jazz, [eEto Suitef] has it all, with sax, trumpet, trombone, and piano lines flying about the mix, sometimes at random, and others quite melodic and tranquilcThe Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York really brought their eAf game here on ETO, and itfs great that Fujii let the entire band strut their stuff and put in a great ensemble performance.h \ Pete Pardo, Sea of Tranquility

gFujii is a hard act with which to keep upcBut ETO proves a good place either to dip or dip back into the fast course of Fujiifs stream.h \ Kurt Gottschalk, The Squidfs Ear

Summer Suite (2008)


2008 Staff Pick  ⎯ All About Jazz
Pick Hit \ Jazz Consumer Guide, Village Voice
gAh \ Village Voice
**** \ Downbeat

gThis big band packs fierce solo power, but Fujii flexes all that muscle masterfully. Her suite runs the loud-quiet, sweet-sour gamut, a model of tight composition and daring arrangement, driven by a rhythm section that hews close enough to the beat and a trio of trombones that do the heavy lifting.h \ Tom Hull, The Village Voice

gThe leaderfs intimacy with the idiosyncratic tonal personalities of her personnel and formal control over the raw materials is apparentc The sections interpret the scored passages with a breathe-as-one quality, gestating, propelling and sustaining far-flung solos.h \ Ted Panken, DownBeat

gIf you know the present NY jazz scene, you would be surprised with its gorgeous and unerring line up. Most of them are notable musicians who are active as bandleaders. There might be not anyone else who has the ability as a composer and a leader to form and organize a big band with these musicians except her.h
 ⎯ Koji Murai, CD Journal

gSummer Suite features her Orchestra New York, a 15-piece band composed of some of the finest players in the Big Apple. Her voicing for the horns and reeds are rich and with great dynamics.h
\ Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant

g39 minutes of dazzling movementcmoreover it goes on to two complicated short pieces, all by Fujii.  She moves in her own direction more than ever without any hesitation.h  ⎯ Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

gThis acclaimed Japanese pianist continues her adventurous but cohesive orchestral writing centered round a 40-minute suite.h \ Short Cuts, Jazzwise

gNow this is a big statement. At just a shade over 39 minutes, Satoko Fujiifs Summer Suite employs everything from more traditional sounds to Ayler-esque squeals of passion.h  ⎯ Mark Saleski, Jazz.com

gThe music on Summer Suite bristles with energy that makes this one of the most vital big bands recording today.h \ Robert Iannapollo, All About Jazz

 gI love Satokofs strong charts and engaging harmonies for all of the reeds and brass with inspired solos from the tenor sax and trombone, but it is the strong ensemble sections that really stand outc Her great New York Orchestra has not played in New York for quite a while, we can only hope they have an opportunity to do so in the not too distant future. In the meantime, you can get this treasure and their many layers of talent.h 
⎯ Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

 gKind of like a later day Carla Bley kicking it out with her version of JCOA, Fujii takes a new tack with her long running crew and serves up a big, bold work that gives everyone a chance to grab a solo and let the summer sun shine on them. A well-defined work that leads you along more than carries you or lets you drift through it, Fujii is in control throughout and knows how to set the mood, the pace and the scene for a cerebral jazz outing.h  ⎯ Chris Spector, Midwest Record

gHer large ensemble writing encapsulates a wealth of historical innovations. The muscular riffing of Count Basie, sophisticated harmonies of Carla Bley, zany irreverence of Frank Zappa, and spasmodic freedom of Sun Ra are all fused into a wide-ranging aestheticc Fujii reinvents the big band tradition, maintaining structural focus with intricate charts and tight arrangements, while still enabling her soloists maximum freedom of expression. Ripe with layers of sonic detail and textural nuance, Summer Suite is an endlessly revealing album, providing new rewards with each listen.h  ⎯ Troy Collins, All About Jazz

gThis is wonderful music, making its length completely arbitraryc While the logistics of coordination for both rehearsal and recording must be extremely daunting for a big band, Fujii pulls it off with an ease that is almost shocking. That the New York band enjoys playing her music is audible throughout Summer Suite, and a live performance would border on the ecstatic.h  ⎯ Budd Kopman, All About Jazz

gThese works do require close listening – theyfre not background/elevator music – but your spirit will be rewarded as you listen to her spirit emerge in a most shimmering fashion! A most wonderful menagerie of compositions that is enjoyable enough to rate it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz fans who want something new and exciting to listen to.h  ⎯  Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation


Undulation (2006)


Top Tens of 2006 \ Bill Barton, Coda
#5 \ Playboy Japan Jazz Awards
#6 \ Swing Journalfs 2006 (Japan)

gTherefs a raft of jazz CDs streeting September 12, but by far the most noteworthy launch is free-spirited Satoko Fujiifs unprecedented delivery of four orchestral CDs: Undulation (on NatSat) with Orchestra New York; Live!! (Libra) with Orchestra Tokyo; Maru (Bakamo) with Orchestra Nagoya; and Kobe Yee!! (Crab Apple) with Orchestra Kobech \ Dan Ouellette, Billboard
 
 g4 of a Kind: The Big Explosion of Satoko Fujii.  With the simultaneous release of four albums by four different orchestras under her direction, the Japanese pianist and composer has reinvigorated the big-band concept for the new century – and placed herself at the forefront of the style at the same time.h \ Marc Chénard, Coda
 
gSatoko Fujiifs four new big-band albums are overwhelming: In such vast universes, anything can happen, everything doesch \ Tom Hull, The Village Voice

gFujiifs New York Orchestra has a different sound, partly because the leader seems to allow these players far more freedom. Her wonderfully Byzantine charts are still here, as is the overall personality of her music; but therefs a looseness to this one that suits the temperament of the players to a teec another confirmation of Fujiifs prominence in large ensemble composing.h \ Jason Bivins, Cadence

gSerious fans of the pianist and composer will be attracted to Orchestra NYfs Undulationc Undulation seems to be a conceptual album: all track titles pertain to elements and celestial bodies, and each piece features two soloistsc Itfs a brass powerhouse, and Fujiifs quirky writing taps straight into the musiciansf individual and collective strengths.c Stellar musicianship, fresh material, excellent soundc Undulation is a keeper, no doubt about it.h \ François Couture, All Music Guide

gThe New York Orchestra is as sharp as a box of switchblades. Players like Eskelin and Malaby are headliners in their own right but you have a sense that Fujii is stretching and challenging this band. Her music is highly chromatic and she breaks the band into units forcing all kinds of interesting interactions.h
\ Duncan Heining, Jazzwise

gAs the director of four ensembles in two hemispheres, Satoko Fujii bears quadruple the responsibilities of a typical bandleaderc Sometimes Fujiifs scores are light and open, other times they are dense and packed with dissonant voicings that contrast low brass – occasionally tuba – with the lighter timbre of woodwinds.h \ Mark Holston, Jazziz 
 
gTurbulence is a defining characteristic of Satoko Fujiifs big band projects, where sections of collaborative sonic turmoil roar into moments of no-holds-barred soloing, with the segments of quirky tranquility sneaking in the back doorc Undulation presents Satoko Fujii at the top of her big band game.h \ Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

 gThe ensemble itself is a traditional big band, but the writing and sound are totally unique; the music is free and the ensemble represents a completely unified view of the world.h \ Eiji Kitahara, Jazz Life

gThe construction of the compositions in which dissonant harmonies that sometimes suggest Gagakufs influence and Fujiifs trademark odd-meter riffs are combined in influencing the soloists in a subtle but not negligible way, which is really excitingc makes me want to listen to the band live.h \ Koji Murai, CD Journal

gFujii formed her first big band in New York when she lived there in the mid-90s, and it now sports a bevy of the city's finest jazz adventurers, including saxfists Ellery Eskelin and Tony Malaby and a dream-team trumpet section; on Undulation - the most unified of these projects, featuring eight compositions inspired by nature - they play with a polish and professionalism associated with the NYC jazz scene. \ Neil Tesser, Listen Here!

gFujii is a singular composer and is one of the most innovative bandleaders with standing ensembles around. Like Ellington, for the most part, Fujii writes specifically for the players in the groups, but her compositional voice is her ownc She is also a seemingly tireless innovator, finding new approaches with each recording, and here the twists lie not in the bending of tradition but the embrace of itc And with such remarkable performers, the recordings are a joy.h \ Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz

gThe music is filled with [an] open sense of beauty.h \ Eiki Taniuchi, Rock Gaho

gThe potential range and the dynamics of the big band are fully utilized and the sound is gorgeous.h
\ Ariake Tanebe, Intoxicate

Blueprint (2004)


New and Noteworthy \ Jazziz

Top 10 CDs of 2005 \ Brian Morton, Coda

Top 10 CDs of 2005 \ Benjamin Franklin, Coda

Top 10 CDs of 2005 \ Jay Collins, Cadence
 
Recommended New Release  –- Bruce Gallanter, All About Jazz New York

gA fearless blend of postmodern influences that ranges from contemporary classical music to free jazz.  Fujiifs writing liberates soloistsch \ Mark Holston, Jazziz

gComposer Satoko Fujii is at the forefront of Japanfs contemporary jazz movementc (Blueprint) includes everything from brassy improvisations to themes that could be borrowed from classic American film noir.h  \ The World, Public Radio International/BBC

gFujiifs orchestral work is just as dazzling as her small ensemble efforts.h \ Derek Taylor. Cadence

gA killer disc by her N.Y.C. big band. Featuring such luminaries as Ellery Eskelin and Stephen Bernstein, this is brash, wild, and wicked fun too.h \ Stuart Derdyne Vancouver Province

gBig bands are few and far between these days, and emergence of an original voice within the idiom even rarer. But Fujii has found a distinctive style that contrasts sawtooth ensemble passages with freely improvised sections that blur the boundaries between the written and the improvised.g \ Stuart Nicolson, Jazzwise

gIf you like your big bands brash and bold, composer-pianist Satoko Fujiifs Blueprint has got what you want. Recorded by her New York band – she leads three others in Japan – this set of pieces is brought to vigorous life by Richter-scale playing in the brass sectionc Blueprint is a beautiful blending of traditional big bandsf wham-bam with small group jazz/improv ethos: highly recommended.h \ Glen Hall, Exclaim

gA consistently engaging program, this is yet another must-have session from Fujii and this ensemble. Herefs to keeping the faith that this music remains as vital as ever.h \ Jay Collins, One Final Note

 gThe hard-core music that is worthy of these members is probably the great result of her uncompromising enthusiasm and concentration for a decisive battle of brief duration.h \ Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

gYou have never heard jazz like this . . . it is based on total freedom and abandon, but rooted in ability! Ifve been listening to Fujiifs special brand of jazz for many years now, and if you havenft heard her yet, there is no better time then now! This comes most highly recommended.h \ Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

gBlueprint kicks off like Gil Evans with the treble turned up to e11fc Therefs dissonance, elegance, and emphatically, purposefully, nothing obvious. Just because therefs spontaneity does not make this efree jazzf. Just because itfs a big band does not make this eOut of the Cool.f The arrangements here are the guy-ropes on the Hindenburg, holding that colossal, intricate thing where we can see it burn.h \ Neil Bennun, Straight No Chaser
                   
gYou will feel as if you are witnessing a gathering of nocturnal beasts in the mountains at night: they start to talk spontaneously and then their meeting will turn into the joyous storm of arguments.h \ Tatsuya Nagato, Jazz Life

g5 Stars. This is an incredible, unpredictable album that takes the listener on a wild ride of ensemble warmth bright with horns to the controlled chaos of an intense episode of fiery free jazzc a natural and serious progression of the traditional big band idea...h \ Tom Schulte, Outsight

gLike Duke Ellington, Fujii has designed her program to fit the personality of her all-star bandc From the beginning of time, communication has relied on the sharing of feelings. This is what Satoko Fujii accomplishes by freeing her orchestra to express individually and collectively.h \ Jim Santella, All About Jazz

 gShe uses the band to full advantage, with symphonic swells and stomping rhythms, sounding every bit as fresh as Ellington must have 60 years agoc Fujii is never one to disappoint, and Blueprint delivers.h \ Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz

"This large vehicle for Fujiifs expression comprising topnotch musicians from New York is obvious proof that shec accepts a responsibility of leading an authentic and radical big band that tries to be up-to-date while preserving the decisive factor of jazz and strives for going out while standing on the firm ground." \ Eisuke Sato, Swing Journal

gItfs a menacing sound of ungirdled imaginationc that carries tinges of rock rhythms, film noir, Japan, and post-modern jazz, all of it shifting and dancing while a host of New Yorkfs most iconoclastic improvisers emerge and recede.h \ Martin Wisckol, Orange County Register

gSurprisingly mainstream, with infusions of driving rock beats, swirls of mad colors and sudden interludes of manic horn conversations followed by sudden ninety degree changes in direction . . . Words wonft do. You have to hear her.h \ Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz 
 
gA jazz orchestra that cherishes the improvisations based on the spirit of freedom and also has the centripetal force towards harmony. You are sure to be thrilled by the tension the orchestra creates, because you will never know what is going to happen.h \ CD Journal

 gMeaty enough to please those who want a little bounce in their step, experimental enough to surprise at repeated intervals, and just a darn enjoyable set of high-flying big-band jazz, it manages to be both ambitious and tightly focused at the same time.h \ Charles Walker, Sudden Thoughts

gHer new venture  . . . comes full circle in a dazzling display of composition and improvisationc As the musicians soar, unfettered and free, they gather atmosphere and imagery to flesh and blood the compositionsc Fujii delivers again.h \ Jerry DfSouza, All About Jazz 

gSatoko Fujii presumably is the most radical leader of orchestras.  This New York ensemble sounds especially pleasant because it is very tight and realizes her idea preciselyc the great expressive range that this ensemble provides works fantastically with her creativity.h \ Kazutomi Aoki, CD Journal

gYou can enjoy the convivium of harmony that morphs slowly as if its performers were traveling in a big continent, or the thrilling moments when they are chasing complicated lines in unison.  This is the collection of performances of compositions in Fujiifs own unique handwriting that are interwoven with solid solos by the members who have performed with Fujii for a long time.h \ Yoshiyuki Kitazato, Ombasha
The Future of the Past (2003)

#7 in Swing Journal's 2003 Japanese Jazz Awards

gFujii is a talent to watch.h \ Duncan Heining, Jazzwise

gOn a piece like the restless and intricately detailed gPakonya,h the solos are like cinematic close-ups or privileged moments: An improvisation might begin a cappella; another horn will join in for counterpoint, gradually followed by the rhythm section and then the full orchestra introducing a secondary theme over which the two horns squabble untilc one solo yields to another with no downtime in between.h \ Francis Davis, Village Voice

gThe Enja release is a fine exhibition of her enduring concerns for the big-band, and here she has attracted the most stellar company yet, driven by powerful drummer Aaron Alexander.  The interest in her music comes less from melody than a restless diversity of textures and tempos, with thunderous rock beats emerging from instrumental cacophony, and grooves broken up by free passages.h \ Andy Hamilton, The Wire

gIt is not too much to say that the thick and vivid orchestration for the title song is awe-inspiring.h \ Ariake Tanabe, Musee

gAs the music unfolded, they successfully added charm to what is hard to deal with and resulted in creating the most interesting music among all of their existing works.  The music is a nice mixture of mellifluousness, folkloric eeriness and pleasant drama.  The quality of their overall performance is well kept.  It is hard to believe that this recording was made in N.Y. only 9 days after that terror.h \ Tatsuya Nagato, Jazz Life

gHow many years ago it was that I had this kind of pleasant feeling of exhaustion after I listened to any music!  ...The entire piece seems like a big suite or a checkered story.  You will be excited and all of a sudden you will find yourself being inexorably pulled into the ending.h \ Yutaka Aoki, Music Magazine

gIn the musically uncompromising sound of Fujiifs orchestra I could find severe opposition to the established scene of jazz whose styles have lost flexibility before one is aware.  This music would be categorized as avant-garde big band music, but each piece is so enjoyable and exciting that this categorization becomes meaningless... Fujii never tries to fix the style of jazz and always strive for the next.  The inspiration that flashed in her when she tried to transcend the limitation is condensed in her music.  In this sense she is a staunch jazz musician.h \ Daisuke Sato, Swing Journal

gThey seem to try to hide their lyricism behind cheerful vitality.  She utilizes her sense of humor as a weapon to reinforce her own serious expression.  They spout their energy toward each other by trying hard to elucidate the relationship between witty phrases and aggressive beats.  This is the great result of Fujiifs dedicated effort.h
 \ Manabu Yuasa, Studio Voice


Double Take (2000)


g2001 Criticsf Picksh – Neil Tesser, Jazziz
g2000 Top Ten Critics' Picksh – Martin Wisckol, The Orange County Register
gWriters' Choice 2000h – Benjamin Franklin V, Coda
gWriters' Choice 2000h – Marc Chénard, Coda
gY2K Top 10 Listsh – Steve Koenig, JazzWeekly
gY2K Top 10 Listsh – Dave Wayne, JazzWeekly
gReaders' Choices, Top 20 of 2000,h – Cadence
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #1 – Yukinori Omura, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #1 – Eisuke Sato, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #4 – Kiyoshi Tonami, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #6 – Kiyoshi Koyama, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #6 – Shohei Nakajo, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #6 – Koji Murai, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #8 – Yo Nakagawa, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #9 – Masahisa Segawa, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #9 – Yozo Iwanami, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #10 – Takao Ogawa, Swing Journal
gJapan Jazz Award 2000h #10 – Takafumi Mimori, Swing Journal

gThe latest, and most ambitious, orchestral project... With all its diverse energies, from turntable and toys to ancient pentatonics, Double Take seems like a musical future that's here already.h \ Stuart Boomer, Coda

gA pungent, engaging set...a varied, often quite affecting portrait of an important contemporary pianist and leader...[Fujifs] a major voice.h \ Jeff Morris, 52nd Street Jazz

gThe musicians on both sets do an outstanding job of interpreting Fuji. She molded them into a spontaneous group of explosive performers that is gripping on the tight ensemble passages and electrifying on the improvised parts. It is Fuji, however, who makes it all happen with an effort of enormous proportions. Unequivocally, this double album is an artistic success and an exceptional accomplishment for the very talented Fuji.h \ Frank Robeline, Cadence

gThe musicians turn in joyful performances, presenting their own musical worlds in vivid fashion.h \ Yoichi Kobayashi, Stereo Sound

gOn this album, Fuji takes a big step forward as an international artist.h \ CD Journal

gThese performances are representative of Fujifs outstanding skills as a composer and leader...the disc serves as a powerful message cast towards the new century.h \ Masahiko Yu, Muse
 
gI would like to applaud Fujifs forward-looking attitudecas well as her compositional skills of taking advantage of a lush big band sound to create intricate harmonies and elaborate bass lines.h \ Yoshiyuki Kitazato, Ombasha

gThe differences in timbral quality and harmonic approach are most apparent, but the American side shines for the robustness of the overall sound and the confidence of the individual improvisationsc the performances demand more than one listening.h \ Mike Chamberlain, The Hour (Montreal)


JO (2000)

 
 gJo is one of the best 5 albums [of 1999].h \ Yukinori Omura, Swing Journal

gSatoko Fujii rounded up some crack players for this big-band date, and they interpret her melodiously left-of-center compositions and those of her husband, Natsuki Tamura, with real verve...the lyrical edge of the players and the leaders' focused production make Jo consistently involving.h \ Billboard

gMany tracks allow for 'conversational' interactions among the horns...keep[ing] the listener off balance with their surprising twists and turns. The dramatic 'Okesa-Yansado' is the most unusual piece, offering a distinctly Asian sound with distant horns and percussion suggestive of Japanese taiko drums. 'Sola' gives this quirky CD a memorable closing with a graceful, ascending melody and gradual power surge reminiscent of Carla Bley's orchestra...Jo should also awaken interest in Fujii's piano-focused CDs.h \ Jon Andrews, Down Beat

gThis new album showcases [Fujii's] considerable abilities as a composer/organizer...the contrast between the majestic 'Japanesque' melodies with grandiose orchestrations and the rustlings of unique soloists...will especially astound Western listeners.h \ Masanori Tada, Out There

gI am so glad I took the time and made the effort to really listen to this challenging but incredibly beautiful CD.h
\ Jeanette Housner, Victory Review

g[Fujii's] vivid performance is full of melodic sense, tapping the origins of musical expression.h \ Yukinori Omura, Swing Journal

gThis well-performed CD will appeal especially to those who like free jazz with stated motifs. Excellent.h
\ Lee Prosser, Jazz at a Glance

g...Big bands have always represented the avant-garde...Satoko Fujii's band is similarly ahead of its time...very attractive.h \ Kotaro Asano, Jazz Life

g...fifteen improvisers moving organically as a single unit in what seems [an] impossible extemporaneous performance. Fujii's group paints an amazing canvas of acoustic free jazz sounds.h \ Thomas Schulte, WomanRock

gIf you are a Stravinsky fan, then Japanese pianist Satoko Fujiifs 15-piece band - populated with some familiar names among the jazz avant-gardec may be your bag.h \ Russell Arthur Roberts, Jazette

South Wind (1997)

gWriter's Choice 1998: Top 10 CDsh – Jerry D'Souza, Coda 
gWriter's Choice 1998: Top 10 CDsh – David Lewis, Coda
gEditor's Choice 1998: Top CDsh – Cadence
gEditor's Choice 2006: Reissuesh – Cadence
gPianist/composer Fujii has come up with an enormously successful orchestral debut... much of this music nods to the AACM's balancing act between control and surprise, between creative embellishment of scored material and off-the-cuff improvisation. The compositional range is truly staggering... By the time Fujii sends an Ivesian brass band marching through a frantic free-bop workout on 'Freeze,' it's easy to be convinced that these people are capable of anything. For those of you on the lookout for a state-of-the-art, end-of-the-millennium big band, it has arrived.h \ Michael Davis, Option

gEditor's Choice. An avant-garde big band capable of raising a ruckus rivaled only by a herd of elephants tumbling into a ravine... What does make her special is her developing gift for blending composition and improvisation, as well as a progressive vision that sees no boundaries within tonality and no restrictions within the avant-garde.h \ Drew Wheeler, Jazz Central Station

g****(Four Stars). Young Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii takes a giant step forward with this spiky 15-piece band...South Wind is marked by its dynamic range. Massed horns are supplanted by simple drum figures, and cacophonous ensemble movements are slammed against solo piano. Fujii's voicings are full of surprises... Like veteran bandleader George Russell, Fujii has found the key to fitting contemporary soloists into a big band format without sacrificing either power or inspiration.h\ James Hale, Ottawa Citizen

gI will take off my chapeau to Fujii for exploring creative sound of an orchestra by keeping control of musicians of such caliber.h \ CD Journal

gFujii is a major modern, envelope-pushing composer and pianist. Very impressive and a major avant contribution. Highly recommended and good liner notes.h \ Chris Lunn, Victory Review

gThe result is a gleeful, funky outburst of neoteric jazz orchestral expressionism, a startling contrast to her previous albums... a milestone.h \ Michael J. Williams, American Reporter

gFujii's vision and intensity are remarkable, yet there are also welcome bits of lyricism and humor.h \ Steve Feeney, Face

gMultiple rhythms and free counterpoint are the name of the game here; think Sun Ra Arkestra meets Either/Orchestra with dashes of Stravinsky and Sousa for good measure.h\ Pete Gershon, Soundboard

gHighly recommended for those with some adventure in their blood.h \ Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

gHighly polished and energetic.h \ Mark Greenaway, Rubberneck

gThis orchestra album shows her avant-garde musical essence, as well as her rather dry sense of humor. This fresh album shows Fujii's talent coming into bloom. This album may well change the Japanese jazz scene, which currently lacks a diverse range of musical ideas.h \ Masahiko Yu, Shinano Mainichi Newspaper

"Although her instrumentation is that of a traditional jazz big band, the sound is unique and sensational.h \ Yuto Naito, Jazz Life

 gThe alternating Fujii/Tamura pieces are complex frameworks from which she is able to invoke dynamic sound ranges. Fujii opens the gates to permit a considerable amount of collective improvisation while still maintaining control of the reins by injecting stellar ensemble statements on top.h \ Frank Rubolino, Cadence



Home
Calendar
Bio
Discography
Projects Reviews
CD Store
Scores and Parts
Photos Libra Records
Mailing List Past  concerts