Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fujii’s Kanreki Cycle Continues with Kaze

courtesy of Braithwaite & Katz Communications

A little less than a month ago, this site reported jazz pianist Satoko Fujii’s plan to release one new album for every month of this calendar year. This is the year in which she will reach the age of 60 (on October 9), a significant occasion known as “Kanreki” in Japanese; so I have taken the liberty to refer to the recordings in this project as her “Kanreki Cycle.” Sadly, Amazon.com continues to ignore Fujii’s releases; so the best way to track the cycle is to follow the CD Store Web page on the Web site for Libra Records.

The cycle began last month with a solo album released by Libra entitled simply Satoko Fujii Solo. This month’s release is from Circum Libra, a joint production of Libra and Circum-Disc; and the performance is by the cooperative quartet Kaze. This group is a rather elegant juxtaposition of backgrounds and styles, which has been improvising collectively for seven years and is still going strong. The backgrounds involve the meeting of Japanese and French personalities, two couples each consisting of a trumpeter and a rhythm player. On the Japanese side Fujii provides rhythm for her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura. The French contribution to rhythm is drummer Peter Orins, working with trumpeter Christian Pruvost.

The title of the new album is Atody Man, which is Malagasy for “egg man.” It is the last of the six tracks on the recording. Each of the quartet’s members is responsible for either one or two of those tracks. “Atody Man” was created by Pruvost, while his French colleague Orins was responsible for “Hypnotique Sympathie” and “Méta-Blizzard.” Fujii contributed “Moving” and “Morning Glow,” while Tamura introduced “Inspiration 2.” For those listening with appropriate equipment, Pruvost’s trumpet in on the right and Tamura’s is on the left. However, describing Fujii and Orins as providing rhythm is probably more than a little unfair. Each of these compositions amounts to an improvised conversation in which all four voices contribute equally.

What is most important is that this is decidedly not one of those improvisation settings in which each piece starts off in a new direction, but eventually all of the selections end up converging on the same shtick. Between the extensive diversity of approaches to performance on all of the instruments and the ability to endow each composition with its own characteristic rhetorical stance, there is never any hazard of confusing one track with another. If anything, the pendulum swings in the opposite direction. Taken as a whole, the album is about 70 minutes of mind-blowing originality, so intense that the most of attentive listeners may well prefer listening to each individual track in isolation, rather than trying to take in the entire “concert” of the album in its entirety. To be fair however, it should be noted that the contents of the album was recorded (in New Haven) on a single day, June 24, 2017.