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Fujii, Satoko Quartet: Zephyros

Zephyros: Greek God of the west wind, who could be both stormy and dangerous or moderate and gentle.

Satoko Fujii once again blurs musical lines on this, her third quartet release. She and fellow bandmates Natsuki Tamura- trumpet, Takeharu Hayakawa-bass, and Tatsuya Yoshida- canopus drums, voice seem equally at home in a highly structured environment as they are exploring unchartered waters in a 'free' setting. The quartet plays challenging and complex music which vibrates with life and originality as the four extremely gifted musicians trade off in a tirade of musical dexterity.

The Future Of The Past (11:57)- Great dynamics and sense of space permeate the song as this one goes from full speed to a crawl and back to full speed within the space of a few bars.The track then unravels in a subtle manner from a simplistic bass line to a full blown avant-jazz gem.

As Usual (7:24)- Avant-jazz in overdrive. This number overflows with energy. A veritable tsunami in a bottle as the quartet demonstrates both superb power and restraint.

Flying To The South (6:48)- Ms Fujii opens the track with some delicate piano lines before she is joined by hubby Tamura and the rest of her crew. A number to showcase the fantastic chops of Hayakawa and Yoshida; who form one of the most solid 1-2 rhythmic punches this reviewer has ever heard in any musical genre.This song has a more structured, almost rock feel to it.

First Tango (8:46)- Improvised bass lines build into a rhythmic cadence, very similar to a tango beat. Tamura renders some very sensual trumpet as the featured man in this number; while Fujii does her best Chick Corea impersonation with a latin flavored ivory-tickling.

One Summer Day (5:29)- Haunting trumpet opening cedes to some complex playing by all members as the tempo keeps increasing like a freight train heading towards a derailment.The locomotive is kept on the tracks though as the number quietly unravels.

Clear Sky --- For Christopher(5:49) - This track may have the 'proggiest' feel to it. Tamura paves the way on the trumpet while Yoshida demonstrates his superlative chops. His drum fills punctuate, and at times challenge for the lead, throughout the number.

15 minutes To Get To The Station (8:49) - Incoherent vocals and discordant musical meanderings start the song off and last until we 'get to the station'. Once we're tuned in though, this one explodes.Hayakawa lays down a funky bass line which takes center stage. Tamura and Fujii take turns trying to outdo each other with improvisational stabs.The number then down-shifts as the bass gets slower and heavier in a slight downward spiral; before taking off once again in a phenomenal tension build up. The song then closes with various harmonies overlapping each other in a soothing descent into silence.

Satoko Fujii Quartet are one of the rare working jazz groups which seem to captivate both the jazz enthusiasts and the progressive rock milieu. The energy and explosiveness of her musicians, in counterpoint with delicate and subliminal musical passages; by way of free exploration, make her quartet one of the premiere musical acts recording today. Highest marks and highest recommendations.

Added: April 17th 2004
Reviewer: Yves Dubé
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Language: english

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