Fujii Turns 60!
CD of the Month Marathon Begins in January
Satoko Fujii Celebrates Her 60th Birthday by Releasing One New CD Each Month in 2018
“Unpredictable, wildly creative, and uncompromising… Fujii is an absolutely essential listen for anyone interested in the future of jazz.”
― Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
“One of the most original pianists in free jazz.”
― Steve Greenlee, Boston Globe
“She could be the most important creative musician of our time.”
― Michael Nastos, allmusic
In pianist-composer Satoko Fujii’s native Japan, reaching the age of 60 is traditionally so important that there’s a special word for the milestone—kanreki. It’s a moment to remember life’s accomplishments and to put former troubles behind you. The celebrant enters the next stage of life with the all joy and expectations of a newborn child. To celebrate her own 60th birthday, Fujii, already a prolific bandleader with more than 80 releases to her name, will intensify her recording schedule, releasing one CD a month for all of 2018. Rather than using her kanreki year to look back at a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Fujii will emphasize new works for current projects, debut special projects, and introduce new working bands in an unprecedented 12-month spree of new releases. “I probably should think and notice that I am not young anymore,” she says, “but I just keep doing what I want to do.”
Two releases by current ensembles will follow. In February, Atody Man (Circum Libra), the fourth release from KAZE, the collaborative group with trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, will feature more fiercely energetic improvising from the international quartet. March will see the releases of Ninety-Nine Years (Libra), the latest from Orchestra Berlin. A new one from Orchestra Tokyo is also planned.
In addition, the dozen new releases will include the recording debuts of a new piano-bass-drums trio and This Is It!, a trio featuring Fujii with Natsuki Tamura on trumpet and Takashi Itani on percussion. Also slated is Intelsat, a duet with Australian pianist Alister Spence and May (Long Song Records), which showcases a one-time trio with Italian soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo and American bassist Joe Fonda, with whom Fujii released a critically acclaimed duo album in 2016.
Other surprises and delights will be in store over the course of the year, in what is sure to be an unforgettable outpouring of musical riches.
Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer Satoko Fujii as one of the most original voices in jazz today. She’s “a virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a bandleader who gets the best collaborators to deliver," says John Fordham in The Guardian. In concert and on more than 80 albums as a leader or co-leader, she synthesizes jazz, contemporary classical, avant-rock and Japanese folk music into an innovative music instantly recognizable as hers alone. Over the years, Fujii has led some of the most consistently creative ensembles in modern improvised music, including the ma-do quartet, the Min-Yoh Ensemble, and an electrifying avant-rock quartet featuring drummer Tatsuya Yoshida of The Ruins. Her ongoing duet project with husband Natsuki Tamura released their sixth recording, Kisaragi, this year. “The duo's commitment to producing new sounds based on fresh ideas is second only to their musicianship,” says Karl Ackermann in All About Jazz. Aspiration, a CD by an ad hoc band featuring Wadada Leo Smith, Tamura, and Ikue Mori, was released this year to wide acclaim. “Four musicians who regularly aspire for greater heights with each venture reach the summit together on Aspiration,” writes S. Victor Aaron in Something Else.
She records infrequently as an unaccompanied soloist, but her latest solo album, Invisible Hand, led Dan McClenaghan in All About Jazz to praise her “stream of ideas, eschewing repetition and cliché in the crafting of her solo work, her loveliest and most accessible music.” Fujii has also established herself as one of the world’s leading composers for large jazz ensembles, leading Cadence magazine to call her, “the Ellington of free jazz.”