Monday, July 29, 2019

Satoko Fujii’s Duo Session with Ramon Lopez

courtesy of Braithwaite & Katz Communications

According to the Libra Records product page, Confluence, the latest album of jazz pianist Satoko Fujii, was released this past May 11. Apparently, it took some time for word of the release to cross the Pacific Ocean; and, as a result, I only learned about it at the end of last month. It goes without saying that the on-again-off-again relationship that has with Libra is back in “off” mode; but, as always, the new album is available through the CD Store Web page on the Libra Records Web site. As that Web page indicates, the album is also available for download from the iTunes Store, which, apparently, will still exist after iTunes as we know it is transformed into Apple Music.

Confluence is a duo album recorded when Fujii had a chance to work with Spanish drummer Roman Lopez. The two of them had previously played together only once, and that was in a trio. All tracks for the album were recorded in a single session, which took place at the Samurai Hotel in New York on December 12, 2018. Two of the eight tracks were composed by Fujii, and the other six tracks were jointly composed.

Some readers may recall that yesterday I wrote about the rhetoric of transparency that I had encountered in the percussion work that Nava Dunkelman brought to Rent Romus’ Deciduous project. Such transparency is also evident in Lopez’ playing, particularly during Fujii’s quieter moments during which every single sound carries a significance of its own. This is particularly evident in “Tick Down,” for which Fujii prepared her piano; and there is something compelling about the ways in which Lopez follows her keystrokes instant by instant. This is just as evident when she is plucking the (unprepared) piano strings in “Road Salt.” “Winter Sky," on the other hand, almost sounds as if each player was filling in gaps left by the other.

Nevertheless, not all of the tracks provide a view through the microscope, so to speak. “Run!” is a bit like a wild madcap cadenza that lost the “source” it was supposed to be embellishing. Both players cut loose on this one, often conveying the impression that each is accompanying the other.

As seems consistently to be the case, this new album seized my attention from the opening gesture of the first track (Fujii’s composition”Asatsuyu”); and attention would not be released until the final gesture of the eighth track. Indeed, given that the title of that last track was also the title of the album, there is a sense that both performers realized that it provided a summing-up of their entire session. Once again, listening to Fujii at work has been a journey of discovery, as compelling as it is delightful.

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