" Sometimes I need a big canvas to paint ideas, feelings, and images on." - Satoko Fujii
Another month, another Satoko Fujii disc; or so it would seem. This musical visionary seems to be constantly releasing new material. Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not griping. The material is always top-notch. "Illusion Suite" is no exception. The disc showcases, once again, Ms Fujii's exceptional extemporaneous skills. On this particular release, she reunites with her New York City cohorts Mark Dresser (bass) and Jim Black (drums). "Illusion Suite" is the trio's 6th release in their 8-year history together.
Recorded on July 14,2003 and mastered on August 26,2003 ( who needs more than one day to do either?) this disc is primarily comprised of the 34:04 Illusion Suite. In Satoko's own words:" I think life is both an illusion and at the same time it is real. Everything in life has this double nature; this piece tries to reflect these images and thoughts about life." The track accomplishes this claim by incorporating some very structured jazz elements with some sonic explorations which push the limits of the pianist's improvisational and lyrical repertoire. Dresser and Black are also given plenty of space to fully explore the potential of their respective instruments in the extremely challenging improvised sequences. As with any Fujii piece, the dynamics of this suite vary greatly: from soft, pastoral sounds, to harsh, almost inaccessible cacophonic meanderings.
An Irregular Course is just that. It's a relatively short , completely improvised number which has bassist Dresser taking out his arco to create dark and disturbing soundscapes, interspersed by tense chords, courtesy of Ms Fujii, as the track builds towards a manic finish.
Flying To The South is a number which was originally released on the fantastic "Zephyros" album last year. Of course, the original version was recorded in a quartet setting and featured Satoko's visionary husband Natsuki Tamura on the trumpet. This is a scaled down version of the song which allows Ms Fujii's lyrical playing to come to the forefront. One of the best tracks from "Zephyros" is also one of the best tracks on "Illusion Suite". The song sounds very familiar while being significantly transformed, with longer impromptu stretches and a stronger penchant towards the rhythmic elements of the song.
An Insane Scheme can definitely seem insane to the uninitiated. It begins with a caterwauling cacophony of notes and segues into more improvised exchanges between the trio; in an off-kilter excursion of musical mayhem. Not for the faint of heart.
Satoko Fujii once again demonstrates her fathomless inspiration and unique musical vision. "Illusion Suite" may be her most challenging release to date and should not be the starting point to explore her musical universe. It is, however, a must own for those of you already initiated, and enthralled, with her music.
- Illusion Suite (34:04)
- An Irregular Course (6:23)
- Flying To The South (8:09)
- An Insane Scheme (5:48)