Home Masthead The Purified and Elevated Passion of Satoko Fujii

The Purified and Elevated Passion
of Satoko Fujii


The Purified and Elevated Passion of Satoko Fujii

That Miss Fujii may have come to this realization ought not to be a surprise really. The cultural – and therefore artistic – topography from whence she has sprung is an ancient one. In it the reverence of the wise ancestor is paramount for it connects each person with antiquity, from which the world and all life itself have sprung. Thus in her music, those who interpret it – herself included – become one with its universe in which the elements of melody, harmony and rhythm become forged in (the works’) purified and elevated passion, performing it like players in a Noh play. The stuttering procession of rhythms led by the trumpet of her husband and soul mate, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, in “Amadare” (also from her 12th album in her 60th year, Kikoeru) are actually mirrors of the dark and light of descent and return, disintegration and regeneration the patterns. This brilliant album ends in the controlled chaos of “Ah Dadada”, a wild vocal piece that what reminds me of Arthur Rimbaud’s great poem “The Drunken Boat” in a roistering, rollicking and one-of-a-kind celebration.

It is a musical cosmos continually reborn from the mystery of its unknown being unfolding itself in the full light of day, only to pass again into the night of rest, then reappear, evolve and disappear again into unending cycles that has become more pervasive in Miss Fujii’s most recent recordings. Paramount among them is, of course, Kikoeru with her Orchestra Tokyo, which closes the kanreki celebration of twelve recordings in twelve months. Of course it doesn’t end there. Miss Fujii’s artistry springs from a bottomless well and manifests itself in a myriad of ways so that she is compelled to bring its calling to fruition in like manner.

In Miss Fujii’s musical world, the impulse of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic breath drives her evolution and the evolution of that world and all within it toward ever-higher states of self-unfolding perfection. Seemingly, with each cycle (of musical inhalation – or creative impulse – and exhalation – rendering of those impulses into her art), becomes a link in the Chain of Being; a journey without end. Each period of rest – from the silence between pieces to the pause between recordings – advances her to a new day, a new expression of that Being; a new recording with newly explored musical ideas and, thus, newly expressed work. Miss Fujii has also spent some time it seems, in the lonely pursuit performing solo works. Somehow, it’s hard to think of her without solitary contemplation.

However, along the way she also meets with and exchanges musical conversations with individuals and orchestras. Among those who have crossed paths with her include the drummer Ramon Lopez, as well as several with Alister Spence. For her performance with Mr Spence, a composing pianist, Miss Fujii brought the full weight of her Orchestra Kobe to bear in bringing Mr Spence’s epic work for improvising orchestra to fruition –with performances in Japan and Scotland. A recorded version of the work now features Miss Fujii’s Kobe Orchestra. Imagine Meeting You Here is a masterpiece of lofty ideas that is transformed into music when imaginary chance encounters between improvising musicians.

Alister Spence’s music is rich in tone-textures. This elaborate one is woven from a diaphanous fabric of melody and harmony, ornamented with a rhythm of enormous gravitas conjured up here by Miss Fujii, together with the rumbling bass of Hiroshi Funato and the monumental drumming of Yoshikazu Isaki. The rest of the canvas has been filled in by a guitar, brass and woodwinds which – in turn – create a wondrous patina of colour that seems to desolve and bloom anew in blocks of rich colour with brass and woodwinds taking up the narrative, and the pictures that go with each block segment, to unfurl a many splendoured work. The success of the epic work is defined by its vivid sometimes even violent musical imagery – choruses of shreiking wodwind and madly plucked guitar alternating with hushed interludes of intense but muted lyricism.


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