Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York


Satoko Fujii’s mastery as a pianist, composer and arranger is well-established. But even seasoned listeners might be taken aback by Entity, her latest collaboration with the New York iteration of her orchestra. From the massive, seasick big-band chord that launches the titular first track, Entity never lets up. While definitely an ensemble piece, the opener is a remarkable showcase for guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Ches Smith, who spend most of the tune in a dissonant cockfight, while the orchestra chants and bellows. It’s a performance of pure sonic derring-do. Fujii probably could have arranged a full record of this kind of hi-octane squall—and made it satisfying. But Entity is far richer in dynamics than that. “Gounkaiku” starts slowly before cascading into aching melodic majesty; it then dips into a weaving shuffle, allowing trumpeter Dave Ballou a chance to play ringleader for a thoughtful interlude.

Entity initially might seem a bit far-out, but at the center of all these compositions is an innate sense of composition and musicality. It’s fiery, sure, but never with the intention of burning anything down.

On Sale Now
May 2024
Stefon Harris
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