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Album Review

Pianist Satoko Fujii leads a beautiful date featuring solo pieces, duets with soprano saxophonist Sachi Hayasaka, and trio numbers with eminent bassist Mark Dresser and ingenious percussionist Jim Black. Kitsune-Bi sounds great the first time through, and becomes more wildly impressive with each listen, revealing multi-layered depths. The pieces are all originals (except Jimmy Giuffre's "Moonlight"). The album opens with "Hizumi," a trio tune that begins with the musicians feeling each other out. They gel within the first minute, and Dresser soon starts performing double duty, moving around rhythmically with Black while simultaneously interacting with Fujii. The clincher is Dresser's ability to mimic all the sounds of the piano theme; it's mind-boggling that he can create these sounds with a bass. "Sound of Stone" is a solo piano piece that Fujii opens by musically chalking out the boundaries. A dark chord signals the end of the sketching, and she proceeds to fill the piece with dramatic runs and stalls, momentous build-up and thinning-out contrasts, and clusters that move up the scale followed by single notes that tinkle back down. This excellent melodic piece showcases her ability without turning into a show of empty virtuosity. "Zauzy" is a duet between piano and soprano saxophone; Fujii and Hayasaka play foil to each other, giving the impression of notes flying from a large, spinning music wheel. About 18 minutes into the trio piece "Past of Life," the group recalls the groove and interaction of Tim Berne's Bloodcount. Altogether, Kitsune-Bi is a stunning album filled with amazing interplay and stellar compositions. The astonishing skill and distinctive style on display here is somewhat surprising, considering that this is only Satoko Fujii's second U.S. release. Kitsune-Bi is an achievement of constantly flowing brilliance and creativity.


Born: 09 October 1958 in Tokyo, Japan

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Japanese-born pianist Satoko Fujii was one of the more exciting new voices to emerge in avant-garde jazz during the '90s, capable of dissonant, post-Cecil Taylor free improvisation, lovely solo piano ruminations influenced by Japanese folk and classical music, and advanced big band charts given to fiery collective improvisation. Fujii began playing piano at age four, studying classical music for the next 16 years; however, when she discovered that her natural flair for improvisation had nearly been...
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Kitsune-Bi, Satoko Fujii
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