Satako Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble: Watershed

Album review
Satako Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble: Watershed

Satako Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble


Label: Libra
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

If the prolific Satoko Fujii had an audience proportionate to her growing critical acclaim, the Japanese composer/ pianist might rival Esperanza Spalding as a popular jazz phenomenon. But Watershed’s prickly textures and dissonances signal that commercial appeal isn’t high on Fujii’s agenda. Min- Yoh means “folk music” in Japanese, and Watershed, one of three new Fujii CDs, is her take on the traditional idioms of her homeland—from an avant-garde jazz perspective. As she explores the jagged percussive and harmonic possibilities of the piano, her bandmates—trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, and accordionist Andrea Parkins—improvise both frenetically and meditatively, often using extended techniques to coax bizarre and wonderful sounds from their instruments. Some passages, including much of “Limestone Cave” and “Hanagasa Ondo,” evoke cosmic transmissions and ghostly plaints, especially when Fujii reaches in to twang the piano strings and the other players generate small breathy noises. By contrast, the grand conclusion to the eight-and- and-a-half-minute “Whitewater” achieves sonorous unisons worthy of an Ellington big band, and the closing “Estuary” is tenderly sad. The mix is clear and precise, emphasizing ensemble unity. 

More Info

  • primary artist, Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble
  • CD

Search Music

Featured Music