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Summer Suite by Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York

Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii divides her time between New York City and Japan while communicating multicolored perspectives via her East and West, large ensemble recordings. Otherwise, Fujii’s progressive-jazz, small group ensemble outings with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black transmit a tight-knit musical aura, intermingled with free expressionism and gobs of dynamics. And her hefty discography includes numerous projects with cutting-edge trumpeter Natsuki Tamura.

Fujii’s 2008 release titled Satoko Fuji Orchestra Nagoya (Japan) is embedded with some acutely orchestrated jazz-rock grooves while the Summer Suite outing highlights her compositional work with some of New York’s finest. Hence, the artist’s latest East/West recordings provide quite a bit of insight into her fertile compositional methodologies.

Fujii instills vivid imagery of New York City’s complexities amid the hustle and bustle during the thirty-nine minute work, "Summer Suite." It’s a multipart suite that spans a gamut of emotive attributes where sanguine and introspective musings segue to probing horns arrangements and densely layered textures. Here, she conjures up notions of a hot and humid day in the City and perhaps rush hour traffic as the music can become quite turbulent in spots. But triumphant choruses by performers such as trombonist Joe Fielder, baritone saxophonist Andy Laster and others, embark upon thought-provoking sojourns within choice segments.

One of the more intriguing aspects of this work pertains to movements that feature a soloist going it alone. In effect, her charts are interspersed with moments of solitude. Then she revs it all back up again via an action-packed set of passages, brimming with pungent call and response mechanisms. Topped off with free-form meltdowns and crashing crescendos, Fujii paints a lucid portraiture of a chaotic metropolis.

On the third and final piece "In The Town You Don’t See On The Map," Fujii renders a cheery and radiant primary theme, spiced with avant-garde type dialogues and chatty discourses. Needless to state, she reinforces her prominence on the global jazz scene with this superbly produced album. In addition, her conveyance of the visual through music offers an additional treat to the grand schema.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York
  • CD Title: Summer Suite
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Libra Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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