Satoko Fujii
CD Reviews

Home Concerts Diary Booking Information CD Shop Gallery

Satoko Fujii CD reviews

Satoko Fujii is one of the more arresting new voices in jazz, an intriguing pianist and composer who in the few brief years of her career has been creating personal intersections between the music of her native Japan and the traditions of free jazz. In the process, she's developing genuinely exciting and original music—Stuart Broomer, Coda

Fujii's concept began to crystallize into a distinctive mixture of three elements: the fluent technique and harmonic ear training of classical, the serene intensity of a traditional Japanese aesthetic, and the risk-taking improvisational spirit of jazz. Fujii has recorded diverse, critically acclaimed albums, including a set of powerful duets with Bley,
Something About Water, and an engrossing solo effort Indication, on her own Libra label; challenging, textural improvs with husband-trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, How Many?, the big-band triumph, South Wind, on the eminent UK imprint Leo Lab; and the phenomenal Looking Out of the Window, a Japan-only issue with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black—Sam Prestianni, Speak Magazine

Satoko Fujii, the diminutive, cascade-haired young Japanese musician, looks set to mirror the many-sided career of her famous jazz compatriot Toshiko Akiyoshi. Fujii is on the way to making the same global impression Akiyoshi did from the 1950's on – as a virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a bandleader who gets the best collaborators to deliver—
John Fordham, The Guardian

Even when pursuing the most avant of free-jazz themes, Fujii's trio is a tight and cohesive unit… the musicians continue to successfully push the boundaries of the trio format—
Yoshiyuki Kitazato, Jazz Critique

The wildness and energy of Fujii's trio made for an awesome listening experience—
Hiroki Sugita, Swing Journal


Their music captures the exuberance and freshness of first-time experiences—
Satoshi Kojima, Strange Days

Whether performing with her orchestra, combo, or playing solo piano, Satoko Fujii points the listener towards the future of music itself rather than simply providing entertainment—
Junichi Konuma, Asahi Graph

… fans of modern European jazz might raise an eyebrow at the fact that that the
Grove has no entry on Norwegian pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, Russian piano virtuoso Olga Konkova, or the excellent British vocalists Cleveland Watkiss and Christine Tobin. Others might be concerned by the omission of the formidable Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii…—John Fordham, The Guardian, reviewing the new Grove Dictionary of Jazz


Satoko Fujii Trio CD Toward, To West

Her most substantial and musically rewarding small group outing to date… Besides all of the purposeful soloing, sinuous flow and hard-edged musings, Ms. Fujii injects a potpourri of underlying themes and fluctuating cross-currents into her music… and perhaps the best is yet to come, as we watch her star rapidly ascend above the horizon! Highly recommended. ***** —
Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

Satoko Fujii is known for her challenging, improvisation orchestra and smaller ensembles that rival the orchestra for the size of their sound. On Toward, To West, Satoko presents a more reflective, tranquil side… this more relaxed material allows the listener to get closer to Fujii than on any previous record—Tom Schulte, Outsight

[Toward, To West] lifts her onto a creative pinnacle in modern music… The thirty-two minute first track flexes composition with improvisation and hint: it's impossible to tell the two apart. Chalk that up to great trio interplay, sharing, and the openness of Fujii's jazz conception… She is Cecil Taylor, but with the common sense to come in out of the rain, and bring her listeners with her—Mark Corroto, All About Jazz

Sensitive percussion shimmerings make way for muscular bass and piano, quickly moving into Fujii's high-energy style… the highlight is the storming power jazz of 'The Way to Get There', by a group you're surprised to recall is only a trio—
Andy Hamilton, The Wire

Her most integrated effort so far. Fine backing from bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black gives Fujii a decided boost into the first rank of new creative pianists. Move over Brad Mehldau!—
S.D. Feeney, Face

Satoko Fujii creates music that swings comfortably while pumping up the adrenaline at the same time… what makes Fujii's music special is the way she wraps up contemporary, world, funk, New Orleans, modern, Latin and fringes into one jazz family. Highly recommended—
Jim Santella, All About Jazz

This performance goes beyond just an ordinary, happy-go-lucky kind of thing. The integrity of the music is defined and maintained through Fujii's outstanding compositional skills and intellectual clarity—
Masahiko Yu, CD Journal

Fujii's music bears the stamp of her uncompromising character and contains a unique, otherworldly element—
Koji Murai, CD Journal

Fujii's music is serene, consistent, and full of confidence… she is a uniquely talented pianist—
Eisuke Sato, Swing Journal


Satoko Fujii Orchestra CD Double Take

The latest, and most ambitious, orchestral project… With all its diverse energies, from turntable and toys to ancient penatonics,
Double Take seems like a musical future that's here already—Stuart Broomer, Coda

The musicians on both sets do an outstanding job of interpreting Fujii. 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 Fujii, 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 Fujii—
Frank Rubolino, Cadence

The musicians turn in joyful performances, presenting their own musical worlds in vivid fashion—
Yoichi Kobayashi, Stereo Sound

On this album, Fujii takes a big step forward as an international artist—CD Journal

These performances are representative of Fujii's outstanding skills as a composer and leader… the disc serves as a powerful message cast towards the new century—
Masahiko Yu, Musee

A pungent, engaging set… a varied, often quite affecting portrait of an important contemporary pianist and leader… [Fujii's] a major voice—
Jeff Morris, 52nd Street Jazz



Satoko Fujii Orchestra CD Jo

Satoko 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—Billboard

Many 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—Jon Andrews, Down Beat

This 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—
Masanori Tada, Out There

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

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

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

… big bands have always represented the avant-garde Satoko Fujii's band is similarly ahead of its time very attractive—
Kotaro Asano, Jazz Life

… 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—
Thomas Schulte, WomanRock




Satoko Fujii CD Kitsune-bi

Satoko Fujii negotiates the path between Cecil Taylor's hyper-kinetic dissonance and more meditative styles of piano players like Randy Weston and Abdullah Ibrahim… Fujii transforms jazz into something architectural, full of designed shapes that jut and jab at the silence of an enclosed space… an intimate album, full of interior explorations and adventures—Michael Kramer, New York Times

This fine improvising pianist gets better with every album, and her new Kitsune-bi is no exception—Richard Gehr, Village Voice

An ideal introduction to Fujii's music—Stuart Broomer, Coda

Fujii is already a master of dynamic juxtaposition, balancing airy filigrees and suspended notes in the upper register with stormy swirls of bass notes or thunderous dark chords… one of the most exciting young pianists in improvised music—James Hale, Ottawa Citizen Terrific! I'm knocked out. I'm sure that listeners will be overwhelmed by the colorful sounds bursting forth on this album—Kotaro Asano, Jazz Life

Fujii exists in an unstructured musical world. She takes freedom as a given with her playing that is alternately robust or contemplative and at all times engrossing… This recording will reward any new music fan who simply listens—Frank Rubolino, Cadence

Fujii manages to juggle the daunting task of juxtaposing traditional Japanese melodies with modern, creative improvisation and she does it all with a warrior-like bravada—Fred Jung, Jazz Weekly

Satoko Fujii's ingenuity and experimentation in improvisational jazz… again raises eyebrows and sets the standard—Brett Matson, Victory Review

Here, Fujii's bombastic piano creates environments of which our mothers would not approve… Don't play it before going to bed—Dave McElfresh, JazzNow

… the music of this Paul Bley disciple is highly charged, wickedly dynamic and virtuoisic. Check it out—Tom Schulte, Outsight

Satoko Fujii has a fantastic feel for the pacing and drama of headstrong piano jazz… The sound is lovely and wide open—Andrew Bartlett, Amazon.com [Fujii's] unique way of expression proves her sensibility and richness of imagination—Hiraku Aoki, Asahi Newspaper



Satoko Fujii CD Past Life

I've already short-listed this record for consideration in my year-end best. Fujii has assembled an excellent group and given them first-rate material with which to work—
Robert Iannapollo, Cadence

The group has an incredible balance of power, precision and explosive creativity. Listening to it in the model-conscious frames of jazz history, it almost sounds like a meeting between George Russell and the Jazz Messengers—
Stuart Broomer, Coda

Fujii's own chops are unimpeachable, combining the studied precision of Paul Bley with the muscular attack of Cecil—
Mike Zimbouski, Signal to Noise

Past Life… exemplifies the strength of this group… This is all cleverly and carefully orchestrated, yet the playing is very free—Steven H. Koenig, La Folia

Fujii keeps her work interesting. Her orchestrations are well knit and tight… this album [is] an impressive one—
Jerry D'Souza, Planet Jazz

We have reviewed a lot of this player's work (over the last year or so), and been impressed by each and every CD. Past Life is no exception… Not for the weak-minded, because you must be intent, but I like it (a LOT), and it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for improv jazz fans everywhere!—
Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation

This music flows with variety, a unique and poetic world sure to hold listeners attention—
Takeo Fujii, Swing Journal

Fujii's an intense composer and pianist who prefers taking a bombastic approach in elaborating on her lengthy, off-kilter melodies…
Past Life creates a fine balance between Fujii's stark composing and the myriad of textures created by her band's soloing—Dave McElfresh, JazzNow

[Fujii] makes full use of her fluency in free jazz and contemporary classical music, transcending the limitations of any one genre – this kind of passion will create the music of the future—
Masakazu Kitanaka, TV & Radio Stella



Satoko Fujii Trio CD
Looking out of the Window

Fujii is an instrumentalist in the joyfully aggressive mode of Cecil Taylor. She can tear even the most deftly packaged melody the way a child tears into a brightly wrapped birthday present: headlong, hungry, unstoppable. Also like Taylor, she requires of her accompanists equal parts sensitivity and adventurousness… Together with the unflappable bassist Mark Dresser and the limber young drummer Jim Black, Fujii has created a musical statement both intense and invigorating—
William Stephenson, Jazziz

Satoko Fujii continues to change and grow, showing a different side of her musical personality on each successive recording.
Looking Out of the Window puts her in a traditional trio setting and the results are exhilarating… On '210' Fujii sounds closer to Marilyn Crispell or Cecil Taylor than on any previous recordings, blending two streams of spiraling melody into a torrent of sound. Midway through the piece, Fujii and Black take to another level, communicating in rapid bursts of musical semaphore—James Hale, The Ottawa Citizen

Brilliant work again by Fujii—
Chris Lunn, Victory Review

The newest pair of recording from Satoko Fujii showcase the exciting young pianist and her original compositions in both trio and orchestral formats.
Looking Out of the Window features Mark Dresser on bass and Jim Black on drums, who share equally in the construction of episodic pieces that stretch and surprise, opening themselves up to extended exhibitions of lush arco bass and sensitive piano interludes that expose the participants classical leanings. If you like your piano of the percussive side a la Cecil and Pullen, there's plenty of that, too—Pete Gershon, Soundboard

Her piano playing breaks the formula, providing an extended free improvisation with two other players who are tenacious. Her music never gets stiff. She both uses and fills space effectively. The sound color of her music is in contrast to her teacher, Paul Bley, but her sense of musical structure is similar to his… We'd like to hear more of her trio playing—
Yukinori Omura, Swing Journal

Fujii is in the sphere of players (Myra Melford and Geri Allen come to mind) who can completely take over a set with their sheer energy and creativity. To her credit, she has enlisted two extremely able artists in Dresser and Black who are capable of carrying a session with their own dynamism. Fujii's style is a rare blend of free playing coupled with a melodiousness that holds the pieces together while she systematically takes them apart. Her patterns ebb and flow in intelligent phrases that have a substance while still being tonal. Fujii displays power and sensitivity, while Dresser and Black fit like a glove with the fast-paced program… quite rewarding—
Frank Rubolino, Cadence

An album to remember! Fujii has a clear touch at the piano that transmits her intentions to the audience… her playing reveals her own ideas without any affected manners—
Yukihiko Sugie, Jazz Life

This favorite piano improviser really takes off on this trio outing. From the outset, this is crystal clear improvisation… Fujii makes music that even a jazz trad freak will fall in love with immediately… an instant hit. Most highly recommended. Great music!—
Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation



Satoko Fujii Orchestra CD
South Wind

Pianist/composer Fujii has come up with an enormously successful orchestral debut… much of this music nods to the 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—
Michael Davis, Option

An avant-garde big band capable of raising a ruckus rival ed 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—
Drew Wheeler, Jazz Central Station

****(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 ful l 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—
James Hale, The Ottawa Citizen

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

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

Fujii's vision and intensity are remarkable, yet there are also welcome bits of lyricism and humor—
Steve Feeney, Face Magazine

Multiple 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—
Pete Gershon, Soundboard

This 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—
Masahiko Yu, Shinano Mainichi Newspaper

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

Highly recommended for those with some adventure in their blood—
Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

Highly polished and energetic—
Mark Greenaway, Rubberneck



Satoko Fujii/Natsuki Tamura CD How Many?

Tamura's trumpet caterwauls through the opening tune… Fujii serves as the ideal foil, with an intuitive sense of when to underscore or contrast Tamura's blowing. Their music catches you unaware, creating tension and intrigue—
Marcela Breton, JazzTimes

If you turn up the volume and attune your antennae to the tonal and textural subtleties of Natsuki Tamura's trumpet and Satoko Fujii's piano, you'll hear a rare breed of mood-derived propulsion… Fujii's solo, 'Kaleidoscope,' recalls her delicate but salient lyricism—
Sam Prestianni, Jazziz

Fujii is above all a lyrical player, concerned not so much with momentum but with color, texture, and melody. Her playing exudes vulnerability and spontaneity, even as it possesses a great vitality. Tamura's is a similar sensibility. Though his playing is clearly and primarily jazz-based, he draws upon a variety of sources; his style evinces a certain familiarity with contemporary classical techniques… Together Tamura and Fujii construct perfect little structures; their collaboration is balanced, astute, and very musical. A lovely album—
Chris Kelsey, Cadence

Anyone complaining about the lack of 'something different' hasn't heard the music of Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and her husband Natsuki Tamura. Their sounds are a potent mix of passion and calculated madness… Satoko… plays a percussive piano that first brings to mind Paul Bley (with whom she's recorded extensively, including the 1996 session
Something About Water)—Rick Marx, Jazz Central Station

Reflective of human moods… It's an improv excursion you won't soon write off… stimulating and challenging… a quite intriguing listen. Recommended—
Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation

Creating their own new jazz, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and Satoko Fujii, piano, treat us to 14 pieces of much merit, free-flow improvisation, too—
Jack Burke, Waxworks

An intriguing, if unsettling musical adventure… The blowing is free and robust, with an emphasis on maximum expressiveness by both players, in the tradition of the 1960s free jazz movement and its disciples. Fujii draws on European impressionists and the classical avant-garde as well as improvisational mentors like Cecil Taylor, Don Pullen, and Paul Bley… Tamura is an insane trumpet player… Weird, subterranean, hilarious, wickedly creative music—
Michael J. Williams, American Reporter



Satoko Fujii solo piano CD
Indication

She dissects Japanese traditional music with her clear and powerful piano sound, as if saying good-bye to Japan. Her original tunes are extremely creative… her music amuses us, too—
Koichiro Tanaka, Jazz Life

Indication affords the listener ample opportunity to hear Fujii's minimalist style, her use of space and silence… Fujii's intros are stately and her approach frequently meditative, as on 'Come Spring' and 'Vague.' She can also startle, though, with sudden, unpredictable changes, as on the tune '210.' 'Tsuki no sabaku' is full of a suspense one associates with movie soundtracks—Marcela Breton, JazzTimes

Most vivid is the totality of her musicianship; Fujii utilizes the whole of the means at her disposal… Her tempos ebb and flow as naturally as drawing a breath… It's particularly encouraging to hear a pianist of her generation who is possessed of such a mature concept of space. Fujii is already an excellent player. This is a most artfully done endeavor—
Chris Kelsey, Cadence

Marked by contrasting sound and silence in her play, quite dramatic and full of surprises—
Jack Burke, Waxworks

I was knocked out by this brilliant collection of solo piano pieces. 'Indication' evoked memories of my enthusiastic reaction to Keith Jarrett's 'Facing You' in the early 1970s… Fujii's output here is very much in that lineage, as well as her obvious inculcation in classical music… startling power—
Michael J. Williams, American Reporter

Her soul comes shining through… This CD will stay in my collection for the long haul… This is some of the most gifted and expressive solo piano I've heard in many years… Most Highly Recommended—
Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation



Satoko Fujii/Paul Bley duo CD Something About Water

Distinguishing Bley from Fujii is guesswork; they play as equals, which represents a considerable achievement on Fujii's part… Fujii displays a shimmering, liquid sound—
James Hale, Ottawa Citizen

Satoko Fujii, the Japanese expatriate pianist who has chosen to match wits with Bley on
Something About Water, has absorbed certain aspects of Bley's ringing, spatially minimalist style so well that their duets often sound like the work of one remarkable brain trust. Fujii is quite capable of holding her own, though, and to make this clear, she tacks three edgy, high-contrast solos onto the CD's end—K. Leander Williams, Time Out NY

Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii's
Something About Water, her duo piano recording with Bley, proves she's taken her teacher's free-flowing, unrestrained aesthetic to heart—Larry Blumenfeld, Jazziz

This series combines two piano voices in subtle, quiet interplay. The music has a crystalline spareness about it, the two players so intertwined it sounds almost like one voice. There is a floating lyricism to the music like a delicate dance… sheer beauty—
Michael Rosenstein, Cadence

It's a tribute to both Bley and Fujii as improvisers that in the mercurial sympathy that exists between them you likely can't tell them apart—
Stuart Broomer, Coda

Her tone of aestheticism that has been the trademark of Paul Bley seems like the flow of crystal-clear water
—Takabumi Mimori, Swing Journal

It takes rare musicians to communicate and improvise in piano duets, but Paul Bley and Satoko Fujii create sounds of nature in expressive style—
Jack Burke, Waxworks

Music that stretches out, pulls at your heart strings, and slaps you in the face. Listen carefully and you can hear blues, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Keith Jarrett. These musicians play on the inside and the outside of the piano and inside and outside the harmonic stream… three solo pieces by Fujii are quite beautiful—
Dennis Thurmond, Piano & Keyboard

Very well done and powerful modern piano music by two talented innovators and interpreters. Quiet adventures here. Buy—
Chris Lunn, Victory Review

Subscribe to our free newsletter for all the latest information about Satoko and Natsuki, other MYOM artists and related cultural gossip and news.

News Current Projects Discography Natsuki Tamura

Mind Your Own Music
Please contact us for our postal address
Tel: +44 (0)1666 575457
Mobile: +44 (0)7818 426060
Temporary email: saltyswift @ hotmail.com

© Mind Your Own Music 2000-2009