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The 'Duet' of Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda on Long Song Records is Free-Jazz at its Finest [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt mikeg101@ptd.net on Nov 05, 2016 03:51 PM EDT

'Duet' Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda (Photo : Dave Wade)

The pairing of pianist Satoko Fujii, 58, and bassist Joe Fonda, 62, for a Duet concert recording in the Meloon Chapel of the Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland Maine was made even more magical than it already was when Fujii's husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, surprisingly bum-rushed the stage to make the second set into a trio.

There's only two tracks on Duet (Long Song Records). "Paul Bley" is the duo arresting time and space in reorganizing the molecules of their own environment for a full 37:10. Named after pianist Bley who helped pioneer the kind of free-jazz that Fujii, especially, writes, arranges and performs, it's a twisting, turning circuitous romp through the imaginations of both participants. Her solos contain sharp angles, even sharper left turns, syncopation run amok and the kind of arpeggios that surprise and delight.

Bassist Fonda is super-attuned to her every tic. When you consider that the two never performed together or never even met, the results are jaw-dropping. No stranger to free-jazz, Fonda was the bassist in Anthony Braxton's avant-garde band from '84 to '99. In the new century, he's been in, out and back in again with no less than five different ongoing bands while still leading two of his own bands, one of which, From The Source, includes his bass with four instrumentalists, a tap dancer and a body healer who sings. He has recorded 12 CDs under his own name.

Fujii has had her name on over 80 albums in Japan where her music straddles folk, classical, avant-garde pop and, of course, jazz. As a composer, she's been called "The Ellington Of Free-Jazz" for, not the least of which, her forays into dissonance and chord-less meanderings.

The second set consists of one 11:20 "JSN" jam and, truth be known, her husband steals the show with his woodpecker staccato trumpet. Put aside all your notions of melody, harmony, rhythm and beats. Duet is here to freak you out. And it will. Just give it time.

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TagsSatoko Fujii, Joe Fonda, REVIEW, Long Song Records

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