Click here to [close]

Friday, February 2, 2024

Satoko Fujii Quartet - After Fifteen Years, Live At Buddy (Self-Released, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

In July of this year, the Satoko Fujii Quartet reunited for a concert at Buddy in Tokyo, Japan ... 'after fifteen years'. The quartet are Satoko Fujii on piano, Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, Takeharu Hayakawa on electric bass and Tatsuya Yoshida on drums. 

The band does not perform new pieces, but brings updates of all their already released material. Fans of Fujii and Tamura will be surprised at the rhythm section of Hayakawa and Yoshida. The former is a real wizard of the electric bass, and he gives the music a very fusion feel at moments, while Yoshida is an incredible powerhouse - but subtle - on the kit. They drive the music forward at breakneck speed, giving it sometimes a more rockish than boppish feel, or something in between. Fujii's compositions are wonderfully complex, with rhythm and tempo changes, long unison lines and brilliantly tight arrangements. Both Fujii and Tamura are in excellent form too. This is music that has a very free feel, but the discipline and mastery of the four musicians shows itself best in the transition between the improvised and arranged moments. 

"Junction" (Vulcan, 2001) is a nice opener, with different levels of momentum and drive, allowing all four musicians to introduce themselves in short improvisations, with especially the piano dealing with the slower movements. It is followed by "Sunset In Havanna" (Bacchus, 2007), a boppish piece that is full of wonderful surprises and ear candy, again with superfast unison lines, more meditative piano moments, starkly contrasted by the rhythmic juggernaut. "An Alligator In Your Wallet" (Angelona, 2005) goes on in the same vein: including playful moments of fun.  

The other tracks on the album are "The Sun in a Moonlight Night" (Vulcan, 2001), "Tatsu Take" (Minerva, 2002), "First Tango" (Zephyros, 2004), and "A Poor Sailor" (Angelona, 2005)

It's not only great to hear a band that is in such great shape, and enjoying the reunion, but it's also a reason to reach back to Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura's earlier work. 

The album exists only in a digital format, but fans will love it. 


Listen and download from Bandcamp.