'Min-Yoh' means 'folk music' in Japanese, but you'll be hard pressed to find any folk as we know it on the sophomore release from the Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble, Watershed. On this third new release featuring the talents of pianist Fujii, she, along with husband Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone), and Andres Parkins (accordion), create 8 tracks of pure avant-garde & free-jazz mayhem.
Opening two tracks "The Thaw" and "Whitewater" see bleating trumpet & trombone colliding with Fujii's off-kilter piano lines and noisy accordion, not sounds you'd normally think go together but it works. On traditional Japanese folk number "Takeda no Komoriuta", the results are very jazzy and soothing, with Tamura's soaring trumpet just heart tugging as Fujii's gentle piano melodies travel quietly underneath. Nothing remotely 'folky' about this one, but it certainly is a charming piece. Another traditional piece, "Soranbushi" is upbeat, chaotic and dissonant, a sure fire winner for all the free-jazz lovers out there. The Fujii original number "Cascade" is dark & mysterious jazz, featuring lovely piano and weaving horn lines, and the other traditional song, "Hanagasa Ondo" is perhaps the oddest sounding track on the CD, with Fujii's wailing vocal annoyingly shattering a strange mix of 'frog croaks' from the horn players. It's almost unlistenable, and easily the one piece to avoid here. The CD ends with the lovely "Estuary", the most calming number on Watershed.
Traditional jazz lovers might not have the stomach to handle something as 'out there' as Watershed, but as with anything that Satoko Fujii touches, if you can stand the heat, you'll surely find plenty to quench your thirst here.
- The Thaw
- Takeda no Komoriuta
- Limestone Cave
- Hanagasa Ondo