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Peace (2015)

4.5 stars.  gPeace has an audacity and powerful joy of creation that rises above her best orchestral work.h – Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

 4-stars.  gWhat a beautiful, wild ride.h – Eyal Hareuveni, Free Jazz Blog

gThe fifth album by Satoko Fujiifs Orchestra Tokyo is an exercise in contradictions and surprisesc. Some of it is melodic, some funky, some noisy and tempestuous, and some bizarrec Satoko Fujii, who has recorded dozens of albums over the past 20 years, has given us another great one.h – Steve Greenlee, JazzTimes

 gSatoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura are the best thing happening anywhere on the planet right now, as far as I'm concerned. Unfettered imagination, pure intuition, fascinating, true and beautiful music.h – John Payne, bluefat.com

 4-stars.  gExplosive and bold.h – Giuseppe Segala, All About Jazz Italia

gA wildly compelling disc from Fujiifs 15-member Orchestra Tokyo. Though she only conducts, itfs still a major statementc. an enthralling whole, the free-ranging compositions blending delicate interludes with finely constructed thematic variationsc expansive, adventurous, and ever-evolving.h – Steve Feeney, ArtsFuse

gcexpansive-eclectic large band creativityc raucous beauty.  Grade: Ah – Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District

 4.5 stars.  gcenormously powerful and very richc. Fujii has created some of the most intensely personal music heard anywhere or anytime, and for that Peace is an amazing listening experience.h – Budd Kopman, All About Jazz

 gJazz meets Lou Reed at his most amped up.h – Chris Spector, Midwest Record

 gFujiifs writing inspires performances charged with the electrifying vivacity of real-time improvisation, foregrounding the specificity of individual voices: shefs been dubbed without hyperbole ethe Ellington of free jazzfc Fujiifs talent is profuse but therefs no surfeit. As progressive as it is epic, Peace is as vital as anything shefs done before...h – Tim Owen, Dalston Sound
gSatoko Fujii lays claim to big-band dominancecA wild roller coaster-styled assemblage of sound.h – Mike Greenblatt, Aquarian Weekly

4-stars.  gFujii has always been a firebrand in this big band space but on Peace she broadens the pallet, injecting some of the very effective emotional qualities found in her more lyrical work. It is her finest orchestral work to date.h – Karl Ackerman, All About Jazz

gcbeautifully immediate soundc.On Peace Natsuki Tamura not only emerges as one of the great trumpet whisperers, but also as one who continues to help raise the music of Satoko Fujii to the Divine.h – Raul da Gama, Jazz da Gama

gWhile Maria Schneider receives a lot of acclaim for her modern, creative big band jazz \ and rightfully so \ another amazing woman from across the Pacific has also been doing magically audacious things with a large jazz ensemblec Every Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo record is a thrill ride overflowing with surprises and pure passion that makes the exercise of deciding what genre it belongs into so insignificant.h – S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews

 gPeace is another magnificent slab of noisy texture designed to tease the sensesh – John Garrrett, Pop Matters

gca stunningly arranged tribute to the late Canadian guitarist Kelly Churkoc Fujiifs music is always full of passion and unlimited artistic creativity. Peace was forged by the hands of an adventurous pianist and master conductor whofs capable of moving in different directions with an extravagant magnificence.h – Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail

Zakopane (2010)

gThe acclaimed avant-garde pianist-composer conducts her decade-old 15-piece brass/wind orchestra that play a thrilling mix of semi-abstract post-bop, metallic rock and vigorous symphonic jazz.h \ Jazzwise Magazine

gRecommended New Release.h \ All About Jazz New York

gFujii has become over the past 25 years simply one of the most important composers of our time: she gives news meaning to the term epanstylistic.fc Fujii loves paradoxes and studies in contrasts: as usual there are plenty of them here, some of them very funnyc this onefs going to end up on a lot of best of lists at the end of this year.h \ Alan Young, Lucid Culture

gRecommended Listeningc I listened all the way through completely entranced with texture, soundscapes and some of the most beautiful dissonant harmonies Ifve come across.  Truly a masterful accomplishmentc show up if you ever see her playing anywhere near you.  This music is a force of nature!h \ Damien Erskine, Bass Musician Magazine

gThere is a post-Mingusian freedom about the whole project that is irresistible, balancing rigor and exploration with unflagging conviction and great musicianship.h \ Marc Medwin, Cadence

gThere are several outstanding qualities that emerge in pianist Satoko Fujiifs big band writing.  She has an extraordinary sense of color that plays upon the moist exquisiteness of muted shades, as well as recognizing and utilizing the vivid ends of her palette of colors.  She also combines ingenious use of the timbre of various elements of a big band – brass, reeds nad woodwinds, strings that replicate the rhythmic nature of the piano and those in the lowest register, and brilliant use of percussion coloring.  She combines all of this like a visual artist working on a gigantic canvas, infusing it with unique color and ensuring that it remains wet so that it appears to change shape and hue every time it presents its arresting sight to the inner eyec The result is a dish so wild and flaming that it burns with the fever of artistic fission.h \ Raul dfGama Rose, All About Jazz

gFor a big band, Fujii provides big gestures in the form of repeated riffs, fanfares, blocks of sound played by one or another section, and much morec Whether theyfre flying through a tricky chord structure or overlaying large blocks of slow-moving sound, the band is totally fearless and committed to Fujiifs protean vision, fueled by her ceaseless energy and apparently unstoppable imagination.h \ Stuart Kremsky, The IAJRC Journal

gThis is some of the most penetrating jazz orchestral work youfll ever hearc Most highly recommended.h \ Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

gExcellent!h \ All About Jazz Italia

gFree jazz scaling new heights and here to pick up the adventurous listener for a full-blown wild ride.  A mustch \ Chris Spector, Midwest Record

gc the large band has full mastery of Fujiifs challenging but colorful compositions.  Fujii, for her part, finds the right players within her imaginative arrangementsc.Fujii loves to create contrast and achieve communion... new and exciting.h \ Victor Aaron, Something Else reviews

Live!! (CD + DVD, 2006)

TOP TEN OF 2006 \ Daryl Angier, Coda

2006 gAlbums of the Yearh \ Duncan Heining, Jazzwise

* * * * \ Neil Tesser, Listen Here!

gThe marvelously complex yet singular voice that is invoked by the Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo was very satisfying.h \ Yoh Nakagawa, Mainichi Newspaper   
gLive!! is pure candy, a treat in every aspect. This album offers a riveting 70-minute set, both as an audio CD and a video DVDc Highlights aboundc Each of the seven tracks features two lead players or soloists, so that at the end of the album all 14 members of the orchestra had their moment in the spotlight. Fans of Fujiifs highly personal, lyrical yet high-energy composition style will be in seventh heaven. Highly recommended and a 2006 must-have.h
\ François Couture, All Music Guide

gThe best record of the bunch is Live!! Everything comes together perfectly and the sense is of a band that has really learnt these compositions and grasped whatfs expected. The version of gBenniefs Waltzh is superb but gWater,h gA Brick Househ and gA Submarine Volcanoh are even finer. You also get a DVD of the performance which I guess makes it the best buy, too.h \ Duncan Heining, Jazzwise

gThe 2005 concert at Tokyofs Pit Inn brings seven of Satoko Fujiifs extended compositions in the open in living color and with open earsc Fujiifs creative music leaves plenty of room for spontaneity from each soloist, yet her compositions each include a theme that honors its specific messagec Teamwork remains a big factor in Fujiifs Orchestra Tokyo, as the soloists converse musically with a natural empathy. This highly recommended live performance is one that we can remember well for eternity, for both its dramatic group intensity and the superb soloing of Fujiifs band members.h \ Jim Santella, All About Jazz

gFujii is never trapped in cozy relationships with the musicians but makes use of their strong and naughty personalities and creates daring music without collapse, or rather, an ideal piece of work.h \ Shiro Matsuo, Music Magazine

gcThe music bursts with an almost tangible passion.h \ Neil Tesser, Listen Here!

gSkilled musicians with keen ears are blending their sounds, kittling each other, creating tight and sharp sound, weaving beautiful and strange melodies one after another. There is no need for rationalization and you can just indulge in the joy of coloring the map of this world of music.h \ Manabu Yuasa, Studio Voice

gTough guys are stretching their wings in the flexible but spot-on framework that was prepared by Fujii.h
\ Eisuke Sato, CD Journal

gFujii has given them (the players) some of her most nasty charts, for thick layered horns, ominous textured shifts, and polymetric funk. The disk has a very distinctly brash characterc A bonus: this corker also comes with a DVD.h
\ Jason Bivins, Cadence

gAvant-big band rarely works – itfs just awfully tough to keep all the freedom from canceling each other out – but Fujii is remarkably adept at keeping her hordes together.h \ Tom Hull, On the Web

Before the Dawn (2003)

2003 Editor's Choice \ Cadence

Top 10 CDs of 2003 \ Stuart Broomer, Coda

Top 10 CDs of 2003 \ Marc Chénard, Coda

Top 10 CDs of 2003 \ Benjamin Franklin V, Coda

Top 10 CDs of 2003 \ William Minor, Coda

gIt is a masterful demonstration of the orchestra's ability to harness their immense power and virtuosity in full flight and in individual spotlights. They have all the energy and intensity that can make improvised music edgy and exciting but they also have the rigorous structure of the big band to shape their overall sound.  If they ever come within traveling distance see them. I know I will.h \ Paul Donnelly, ejazznews.com

gItfs a complex, lush and exciting album that is more than just an avant-garde one... It marvelously combines the beauty of structure found in Cecil Taylorfs music and the excitement of Japanese festivals.h \ Takashi Nikaido, Jazz Life

gPower, exuberance, fierce soloingcmoments of beauty, serenity, delicacy interspersed with seismic Elvis Costello ePump it Upf percussion/bass modes that lead into gentle classical harmonyc Fujii is an absolutely essential listen for anyone interested in the future of jazz.h \ Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

gBefore the Dawn sparkles with surreal imagination and innovative twists and turns which will delightc Satoko Fujii at her best.h \ Lee Prosser, JazzReview.com

gSatoko is a sculptor in sound, and more Henry Moore than Brancusi . . .The orchestra is her instrument on Before The Dawn, and she uses it to make epic gestures over thudding, art rock beats.h \ John Chacona, Coda

gNobody simply solos: they dive into an ever-morphing swirl of color and texture.  The band doesn't simply vamp: they wring new harmonic or rhythmic twists out of a simple interval, ostinato, or chordc Each listen reveals new details in these pieces, though the energy and creativity of the playing grabs you from the outset.  It's extremely vigorous and forward-thinking music at once.  Don't miss out.h \ Jason Bivins, Cadence

gc more exuberant, filled to the rim with exciting fast-paced action and complex arrangements.  But it has not lost the groove.  Fujii's writing swings hard - rock hardc get Before the Dawn for her ferocious writing.h \ François Couture, All Music Guide

gctotally unfettered energy, reminding me somewhat of Japanese opera... This outing displays a high level of maturity for their "big band" improvised soundc Satoko is a master composer, who totally understands the dynamics (to include both calm and tornado-like) of free-style, and leaves room for each and every player, without sacrificing any of the qualities of the groupc this is no-holds-barred music that requires listener involvement & focusc MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.h\ Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

g4-stars.  Satoko Fujii continues to extend her art as she extends control over itc Fans of William Parker's Little Huey Orchestra and the Dutch I.C.P. ensemble will appreciate this small orchestra creating extemporaneous jazz.h
\ Thomas Schulte, Outsight

gThis is a unique colorful Japanese approach. They play with a lot of precision over five well-developed and stimulating compositions.h \ D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter

 gFujiifs score, a mix of detailed written parts and open free parts, often with odd meters and tempo changes, might be tough for the ensemble members because it would require each musician to be focused and extremely alert.  But she seems to have mastered the unusual skill of drawing the spontaneity from the members effectively without letting the listeners notice it... In the space between the notes we can feel her sense of humor and composure as if we feel the breeze.h \ Koji Murai, CD Journal

 gThis epoch-making orchestra has broaden the possibility of the music created by the big band format, and Fujiifs open and at the same time detailed ideas are interwoven into this dynamic music that never fails to provide thrills and impact to the listeners... Here you will find the real pleasure of jazz.  This album is filled with joy of expression that oozes through the essentials of music and will bring the happiness of indulgence in superb expressions to the listeners.h \ Yukinori Omura, Swing Journal

gFree and generous improvisational music that the members really seem to enjoy playing, and itfs totally free from commercialism.  The arrangements by the leader/pianist Fujii are also brilliant.h \ Stereo

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

 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 Rubelino, Cadence

 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

Projects Reviews
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