AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Futari (Taiko Saito & Satoko Fujii) – Underground Volume 1 [Bandcamp]

Futari is the duo of pianist Satoko Fujii and percussionist Taiko Saito on vibraphone and marimba. The music on Underground Volume 1, the first of three installments in a series, comes from their second collaboration; the first, Beyond, was released in 2020. For Underground the two collaborated at a physical distance—something that’s become more or less routine in these times of covid restrictions—but more unusually, also at a distance in time. Saito’s contributions were recorded in 2018 in Berlin, while Fujii made her recordings in June 2021 in Kobe, Japan, where she also mixed the tracks.

Underground Volume 1 is a release with a brief running time, coming in at around twenty minutes. The five pieces are highly atmospheric and largely shaped by Saito’s quasi-electronic drones and timbres, which he produced through the creative use of bowing and scraping the keys and other extended techniques. Fujii’s playing is more pitch-oriented but she also takes an expanded view of the piano’s possibilities, playing directly on the strings or muting them for a staccato, explicitly percussive effect, as she does on the second track, Break in the Clouds. A track like Memory Illusion is based on the sensuality of pure sound unmediated by melodic or harmonic concerns, but Frost Stirring, a performance that sounds like it could have been recorded in real time with both musicians in the same room, is almost entirely pitch-centered, with Saito playing a kind of cadenza in the foreground over Fujii’s thunderously spare piano chords, after which Fujii contributes an entirely apposite and complex counterline. The closing piece, Asayake, brings together the album’s sonic and melodic tendencies by having Fujii’s heavily reverbed piano provide a portentous undertow to Saito’s rapidly pulsing repeated figures on vibes.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: This Is It! – 1538 [Libra Records 203-049]; Satoko Fujii / Joe Fonda / Gianni Mimmo – Triad [Long Song Records LSRCD142/2018]

In October of this year Japanese pianist/composer Satoko Fujii will celebrate her 60th birthday; to mark the occasion she’s decided to release one CD per month for 2018. Two of these releases, each featuring Fujii in a trio setting, are a testament to the diversity of her musical interests and her willingness to take risks at the initiation of what in Japan is celebrated as a new, auspicious stage of life.

The first trio is This Is It!, an ensemble consisting of Fujii along with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and percussionist Takashi Itani. The three have played together for about five years, originally as a quartet with bassist Todd Nicholson and later alone as a trio. For the album 1538—named for the melting point of iron in degrees Celsius—the group improvises around six of Fujii’s compositions. The composed sections are more than just expedient launching points for improvisation—often of very high-energy; they’re compelling in themselves. Fujii frequently writes complex, convoluted melodies across multiple time signatures. It’s very demanding material to play, but play it Tamura and Itani do, and with a tight cohesion. The trio’s unusual instrumentation of trumpet, drums and piano gives the sound an aggressive edge that is perfectly adapted to Fujii’s jagged, stop-and-start lines.

The second trio consists of American double bassist Joe Fonda and Italian soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo. Unlike the standing trio with Tamura and Itani, this trio was put together for the occasion. Fujii and Fonda have a longstanding musical relationship, but Mimmo was a new factor. The set of improvisations was recorded in Milan on 9 October 2017, Fujii’s 59th birthday and the day after the three had played a concert—the latter being the first time they’d played together as a trio. One wouldn’t know it from listening to the music, which coheres as a tight fusion of compatible sensibilities. The three seem to share a sense of improvisation’s ability to trace a quasi-narrative cycle, which here takes the form of a long-term oscillation, consisting in waves of expressionistic intensity dissolving into introspective duets or solos. All five pieces, including the forty-minute-long Birthday Girl, show a remarkable attention to structure; the playing is in the moment, as is all good free improvisation, but every moment also seems to anticipate not only what the next moment will be, but what, given the current state of things, it should be. Fujii is an intuitive pianist who seems to approach improvisation with a composer’s sensitivity; she can fill audio space with cascades of sound or can allow ample breathing room with sparser, quasi-premeditated pitch collections. Mimmo—who was an inspired choice for making the Fujii-Fonda duo a trio–plays with characteristically refined lyricism leavened by timbral experimentation at the edges; his finely etched lines never lose definition, even at extremes of volumes and speed. Fonda’s forceful and often percussive voice provides a solid foundation; even in this free context he conserves the bass’s traditional function as anchor. Occasionally he switches to wood flute, which makes for a surprising, and surprisingly engaging, color contrast.

Daniel Barbiero


Larry Ochs’ Sax and Drumming Core Coming to NY

Scott Amendola 1
Image by michaelz1 via Flickr

From Roulette:


Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core was formed in June 2000 for a special – invitation performance in San Francisco. The Core’s music is a meditation on and a 21st-century distillation of the songs of American and eastern European blues-shouters, and of traditional chant-singers from Asia and Africa. This is the space that this band was inspired by – at first. But then, after all, the end result is modern. Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core consists of both Scott Amendola and Donald Robinson on drums and is led by Larry Ochs on tenor and sopranino saxophones. As of November 2007, the trio expanded to a quintet, including Satoko Fujii on synthesizers and piano, and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet.

OCTOBER 13th @ 8:30 PM
20 Greene St (between Canal and Grand St)
Admission $15 Students/Seniors/Under 30s $10 MEMBERS FREE
TICKETS/RSVP: 212.219.8242

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Squid’s Ear Reviews

From the Squid’s Ear:

Robert Van Heumen – Stranger
(Creative Sources)

Max Roach / Archie Shepp – The Long March

Timothy Leary, Ph.D. – Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Satoko Fujii / Myra Melford – Under the Water

Digital Primitives (Cooper-Moore / Tsahar / Taylor) – Hum Crackle Pop

Rhodri Davies / Stephane Rives / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Carlos Santos – Twrf Neus Ciglau
(Creative Sources)

Franck Vigroux & Matthew Bourne – Call Me Madame (Good News From Wonderland)
(D’Autres Cordes)

Derek Bailey – A Silent Dance

Brendan Murray – Wonders Never Cease

Roscoe Mitchell – Congliptious

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Performances Releases Reviews

DMG Newsletter September 4th, 2009

From DMG:

Dennis Gonzalez – 2 CDs! Satoko Fujii Orchestra Nagoya! NUTS with Rasul Siddik & Itaru Oki! Eugene Chadbourne & David Sait! Abercrombie/Feldman/Morgan/Baron! Trevor Dunn‘s MadLove! Sax- Ruins! John Tchicai‘s Five Points!

NEW: Noble/Edwards/Ward! Ryan Blotnick! Acid Mothers Temple! Kawabata Hot RATllesnakes! Charles Tyler! Gary Burton & Chick Corea complete Duets Box! Paul Bowles & Bill Laswell! Derek Bailey & Min Xiao-Fen! Electric Psych Sitar Headswirlers!


Downtown Music Gallery FREE In-Store Performance Schedule Continues with:

Sunday, Septembr 13th at 6pm:
Amazing Free/Jazz Sax & Contrabass Duo!

Sunday, September 20th at 6pm:
Two Colossal Bass Clarinetists in a Rare Duet!

Sunday, September 27th Double Header!
A Fine New Drums/Trumpet/Cello Trio!
Wow! Powerful Trombone & Tenor/Soprano sax Duo!

Tuesday, September 29th at 6pm:
Amazing violin/bass/percussion Trio!
Slam Recording Artist Performs a Rare Tuesday Set at DMG!

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Angel City Jazz Festival

The Angel City Jazz Festival takes place on Labor Day Weekend in LA, and features Nels Cline, Alex Cline, Dave Douglas, Bennie Maupin, Billy Childs, Larry Goldings, Satoko Fujii, Wayne Horvitz, and many more.

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The Stone in September

From the Stone in NY:

September 2009 at the Stone curated by Nonoko Yoshida / Connie Crothers

9/1 Tuesday (YT)
8 pm
Michael Clemow
Michael Clemow (granular synthesis instruments)

10 pm
Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble
Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) Curtis Hasselbring (trombone) Andrea Parkins (accordion) Satoko Fujii (piano, vocal)
Min-Yoh means folk music in Japanese. After Satoko studied classical and jazz, she has come to find in Min-Yoh a totally different power from the music she had previously studied and played. Satoko and her Min-Yoh Ensemble put its deep and powerful expression into this music.

9/2 Wednesday
8 and 10 pm
John Zorn Special Birthday Concert
John Zorn (sax) and some VERY special guests

9/3 Thursday
8 pm
Leesa & Nicole
Leesa Abahuni, Nicole Abahuni (visuals, sound arts)

10 pm
Live Footage
Topu Lyo (electric cello, loops) Mike Thies (drums, keys)
Brooklyn based duo performs original compositions with lots of room for improvisation based on live looping. Some have described their music as a combination of Squarepusher meets Debussy.

9/4 Friday
8 pm
Anima——’De l’autre côté du monde’
Aya Nishina (piano, voice, electronics) Thierry Gomar (vibraphone) with Red Light New Music—Christiana Little (soprano) Eileen Mack (clarinet) Jessie Marino (cello) John Popham (cello) Yegor Shevtov (piano)
Thierry Gomar’s vibraphone reverberates like no other, between the worlds—jazz, medieval and baroque music, contemporary and repetitive music. Anima, a duet collaboration formed by Aya Nishina and Thierry Gomar since March 2009, features graphically noted compositions by Toru Takemitsu and Scott Wollschleger; improvisations inspired by a new work for solo clarinet by Vincent Raikhel; personal interpretations of music from medieval era.

10 pm
Red Light New Music
Christiana Little (soprano) Eileen Mack (clarinet) Jessie Marino (cello) John Popham (cello) Yegor Shevtov (piano)
Red Light New Music opens it’s 5th season with new chamber works at the Stone. The Red Light Ensemble performs works by Liza Lim and Reiko Füting, alongside new pieces by Red Light Composers Vincent Raikhel, Scott Wollschleger, Chris Cerrone and Kyle Hillbrand. Red Light New Music is a New York-based ensemble, concert series, and composers collective dedicated to presenting exciting and original contemporary music from musicians around the world. We perform, present, and compose works that are both avant-garde and visceral, challenging and edifying — we strive to present works which both expands and enriches what the word music means.

9/5 Saturday
8 pm
Ky (from Paris)
Yann Pittard (baritone guitar, oud, fx) Maki Nakano (sax, metal-clarinet) guest Gaston Zirko (drums)
Named after a French word for ‘who’, Ky never know who is the third musician. Undoing the boudaries between the original and improvisation, they take tunes of Erik Satie and mingle with their own improv-mindset.

10 pm
Word Games
Dave Schnug (alto sax) Trevor Lagrange (wurlitzer, piano) Dave Miller (drums, cymbals)

9/6 Sunday
8 pm
Yuko Fujiyama
Yuko Fujiyama (piano)

10 pm
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass)

9/8 Tuesday (CB)
8 pm
Centric 3
Shoko Nagai (moog,piano,electronics) Elliot Sharp (guitar, effect)

10 pm
SSSS (Super Seaweed Sex Scandal)
Nonoko Yoshida (alto sax) John Stanesco (tenor sax) Paul Wheeler (guitar) Borey Shin (piano, accordion) Joe Merolla (bass, cello) Justin Veloso (drums)
The youngest generation of the Downtown Music Scene! Everyone come on out and hear these twenty-something lunatics KICK OUT THE JAMS! FIVE DOLLARS

9/9 Wednesday
8 pm
Joe Onishi
Davindar Singh (baritone sax) Noelle Doresy (voice) Andrew Eisenberg (percussion) Joe Onishi (synth)
From Boston.

10 pm
Trevor Dunn
Trevor Dunn (bass)
From Brooklyn.

9/10 Thursday
8 pm
Chris DiMeglio’s Imaginary Quartet
Chris DiMeglio (trumpet) Steve Swell (trombone) Adam Lane (bass) Andrew Drury (drums)
The debut of a new group performing sometimes-jazz-derived-sometimes-not compositions by DiMeglio.

10 pm
Eishin Nose
Eishin Nose (piano) Dave Ambrosio (bass) Satoshi Takeishi (drums)

9/11 Friday
8 pm
Ned Rothenberg
Ned Rothenberg (sax) Ikue Mori (electronics) Alex Waterman (cello)

10 pm
AZMARI (from Japan)
Hiroshi Morita (keyboard) Bunpei Shibuya (guitar) Takahisa Oji (drums)
AZMARI -an European equivalent of bard in Ethiopia- was formed in 2005. Emerging from Tokyo basement jam sessions, the trio hits tropical-jazz-rock taking a comfortable ride on aboriginal rhythms.

Tsuyoshi Furuhashi, Sachi Hayasaka and Toshiki Nagata
An exciting night featuring two spectacular saxophonists here in a rare visit from Japan.

9/12 Saturday
8 pm
Tsuyoshi Furuhashi
Tsuyoshi Furuhashi (tenor sax, flute) Reggie Nicholson (drums) plus guests
Special appearance at The Stone by this exciting saxophonist from Japan.

10 pm
Sachi Hayasaka, Toshiki Nagata and Shiro Sadamura
Sachi Hayasaka (sax) Toshiki Nagata (bass) Shiro Sadamura (violin)

9/13 Sunday
8 pm
Mermort Sounds Film (from Japan)
Satoshi Tanaka (guitar) Mamiko Shimizu (keyboard, vocal) Haruhisa Tanaka (laptop, sampler) Takahisa Oji (drums) Takumi Ozuru (imagery)
Formed in 2004, the five-piece sound/film collective from Tokyo has been creating another universe combining rock, hard-core, progressive, classical and noise galore. Their lyrical yet vivid pieces possess messages that bite you, then leave you with luke-warm feelings.

10 pm
Tom Zlabinger Quartet
Tom Zlabinger (bass) Dave Schnug (sax, flute) Dave Miller (drums) Nonoko Yoshida (alto sax)

9/15 Tuesday (MP)
8 pm
Chuck Bettis
Chuck Bettis (electronics)

10 pm
Jon Madof
Jon Madof (guitar)

9/16 Wednesday
8 and 10 pm
John Zorn (sax) Connie Crothers (piano) Ikue Mori (electronics) and many special guests
Another East Village Rent Party to support The Stone. TWENTY DOLLARS

9/17 Thursday
8 pm
Andy Fite
Andy Fite (guitar, voice)
Andy Fite is an American jazz guitarist, singer and song writer, living in Sweden since 1994. His main concern as a performer is to do just whatever he wants and his hope each time is to spark a little joy for his audience, and perhaps to let them hear something they might not have expected.

10 pm
Bill Payne and Connie Crothers
Bill Payne (clarinet) Connie Crothers (piano)
Music from the heart, free as a bird.

9/18 Friday
8 pm
Harvey Diamond
Harvey Diamond (piano)

10 pm
Richard Tabnik Trio
Richard Tabnik (alto saxophone) Roger Mancuso (drums) Adam Lane (bass)
Tonight’s set will feature the world premier performance of Symphony for Jazz Trio: A Prayer for Peace

9/19 Saturday (RK)
8 and 10 pm
Jemeel Moondoc Quartet
Jemeel Moondoc (alto saxophone) Connie Crothers (piano) Henry Grimes (bass, violin) Chad Taylor (drums)
Fifteen dollars.

9/20 Sunday
8 pm
Carol Liebowitz
Carol Liebowitz (piano, voice)

10 pm
Andrea Wolper (voice) Ken Filiano (bass) Connie Crothers (piano)
Three musical “voices” join to make music cooperatively as they weave in, out and among one another, extending, bending and experimenting with the sonic capabilities of their respective instruments.

9/22 Tuesday
8 pm
Bud Tristano and Valentina Nazarenko
Bud Tristano (guitar) Valentina Nazarenko (piano)

10 pm
Ursel Schlicht
Ursel Schlicht (piano)
Ursel Schlicht will play a rare solo set of her music, exploring the piano from subtle glissandi on the strings to resounding groove.

9/23 Wednesday
8 pm
Dori Levine
Dori Levine (voice)
Dori Levine explores the possibilities of solo voice in and out of the box, including traveling to other cultures, planets, worlds, forests, jungles, musical genres, relationships–wherever the journey leads. Program is improvised and not augmented by electronics or other devices…raw and naked solo voice.

10 pm
Virg Dzurinko
Virg Dzurinko (piano)

9/24 Thursday
8 pm
Nick Lyons
Nick Lyons (alto saxophone)

10 pm
John Wagner and Tom Blancarte
John Wagner (drums) Tom Blancarte (bass)

9/25 Friday
8 pm
Kazzrie Jaxen
Kazzrie Jaxen (piano)
Love’s Fire,” an improvisational journey into the dreamtime through the portal of Rumi poetry.

10 pm
Kazzrie Jaxen
Kazzrie Jaxen (piano) Charley Krachy (tenor saxophone) Ratzo Harris (bass)
“Sculpting Light,” duo/trio improvisations exploring the luminosity of melody and mystery.

9/26 Saturday
8 pm
Connie Crothers Quartet
Connie Crothers (piano) Richard Tabnik (alto saxophone) Roger Mancuso (drums) Ken Filiano (bass)
How do you open up music this far, all the while leaving its nature to be itself? Connie’s band is like seashells who all spiral in the same direction, the core mystery is how the spiral is really the improvisation. — M. Weber

10 pm
Connie Crothers Quartet with Mark Weber
Connie Crothers (piano) Richard Tabnik (alto saxophone) Roger Mancuso (drums) Ken Filiano (bass) Mark Weber (poet)
You have to be careful what you say, words rule the world, maybe tonite we’ll find the words to make it real. — M. Weber

9/27 Sunday (MP)
8 pm
Kevin Norton
Kevin Norton (vibes, percussion)
Kevin Norton plays solo percussion rarely, this perhaps being his second solo performance (the first was after the release of “Quark Bercuse: Solo Percussion, Volume 1”). Kevin is a bandleader, composer and percussionist-collaborator with musicians like Anthony Braxton, Joëlle Léandre, Connie Crothers and Frode Gjestad.

10 pm
Lorenzo Sanguedolce and Michael Bisio
Lorenzo Sanguedolce (tenor saxophone) Michael Bisio (bass)
This dynamically expressive sax-bass duo will be celebrating the release of their new LP on No Business Records, a limited vinyl pressing and Sanguedolce’s debut album.

9/29 Tuesday
8 pm
Cheryl Richards
Cheryl Richards (voice) Nick Lyons (alto saxophone) Adam Lane (bass)
Sometimes sparse and simple, sometimes complex and lush. Improvised pieces and freely interpreted jazz standards.

10 pm
David Arner
David Arner (piano)
An avid birder, Arner will premiere his “Birds of Central Park,” another improvisatory composition in his ongoing series called “Abstract Songs for Birds.” This is Arner’s first solo piano appearance in NYC since the Knitting Factory in the 90s.

9/30 Wednesday
8 pm
Stefano Pastor
Stefano Pastor (violin)
Stefano Pastor presents “Chants”, his new CD for the English label “Slam,” a solo work which represents a moving challenge and an expansion of violin sound. If solo violin works are very rare, a solo work exploring the standard repertoire with just a bow instrument is probably unique.

10 pm
Adam Caine
Adam Caine (guitar)

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Free Jazz Blog Reviews

From Free Jazz:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Adam Caine Trio – Thousandfold (NoBusiness, 2009) ****

Sunday, May 3, 2009
Musiconspiracy – Do I The In? (Not Two, 2009) ****

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Joëlle Léandre & Quentin Sirjacq – Out Of Nowhere (Ambiances Magnétiques, 2008) ****½

Friday, May 1, 2009
Satoko Fujii & Myra Melford – Under The Water (Libra, 2009) ****

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Nils Petter Molvaer – Hamada (Sula Records, 2009) ***

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Satoko Fujii Ma-do Quartet at the Vortex in London, England

All About Jazz provides a review of this show.

Satoko Fujii Ma-do Quartet
Vortex Jazz Bar
London, England
February 6, 2009

Japanese pianist and composer Satoko Fujii may have small hands but more than compensates with a big conception, realizing its expression through a bewildering range of vehicles. A full house at London’s Vortex Jazz Bar hosted her latest project, the Ma-do Quartet, partway through their first European tour.

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AMN Podcast: Fast ‘n’ Bulbous – Waxed Oop

Woeish Me Bop

Captain Beefheart‘s music is the quintessential ‘outsider art music’ of the second half of the 20th century. Despite the fact that he retired from music over 25 years ago, his music resonates more strongly than ever as an influence on contemporary music. Fast ‘n’ Bulbous offer a unique slant on the songbook of one of contemporary music’s most idiosyncratic musical figures. The band features seven great, well-regarded musicians drawn from the rock and the jazz worlds: co-leaders guitarist Gary Lucas (who was in the final incarnation of Beefheart’s Magic Band) and saxist/arranger Phillip Johnston (of the Microscopic Septet) as well as drummer Richard Dworkin, and baritone saxist Dave Sewelson (both also of the Micros), trombonist Joe Fieldler (Ed Palermo Big Band and Satoko Fujii‘s big band), bassist Jesse Krakow (of Time of Orchids and Doctor Nerve) and trumpeter Rob Heinke (also of Doctor Nerve). With a strong, creative line-up like this, you know that you will be getting something more than just a ‘cover band’ and you indeed are. Heartfelt, exciting and it both rocks and swings!

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