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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Satoko Fujii Four

By Matt Cibula
Published April 27, 2007

When We Were There
Polystar

Satoko Fujii is an innovative and fearless pianist; she loves rough and tumble free jazz as much as she enjoys composing softer and more lyrical pieces. It is wonderful to hear her pick her way carefully through atmospheric pieces (“Nocturne”) and gentle ballads (“Inori”), but she is truly thrilling when she works through more aggressive spiky numbers (“The Line of the Heart”). Jazz lovers around the world need to start taking note of her attack—and her restraint, which is even more impressive. But she might even be better as a bandleader than as a pianist. She has assembled an excellent group here: Mark Dresser and Jim Black are a wonderful rhythm section, and her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, knows how to spin a canny web as a soloist and as a support horn. The way this group negotiates the difficult 15-minute closing piece, titled “A Diversion” is awe-inspiring.