Satoko Fujii Trio

Junction

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The syndrome of the rising star happens when an artist enjoys more and more recognition and success and starts to multiply projects and releases, all the while diluting his or her art. Pianist Satoko Fujii's star has surely been ascending since 1999 and she been piled up one album after the other in the few years after. After the delicate solo and duets CD, April Shower, released in the first half of 2001, she came back in October of the same year with not one, but two CDs (the other one is Vulcan). Junction is her fourth album with her trio. Bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black have a profound knowledge of Fujii's esthetics. They deliver what she expects, but somehow limit their contribution. They sound less involved, less inclined to push the composer into new ground. On the other hand, her compositions are very well-tailored. Only on "The Future of the Past" will the supporting cast have a real chance to stretch and contribute -- elsewhere they execute. Fujii is the real star. Since her large-scale writing projects (the double Satoko Fujii Orchestra CD Double Take being a landmark), her group compositions have become denser, more focused, and structured. It shows on "Go on Foot" and "Eel," both very effective avant-garde jazz tunes. "Ninepin" begins with a guest appearance by Natsuki Tamura on melodica -- not all the more fruitful, but the piece develops into something pretty exciting afterwards. Junction may not be as lively as the trio's 1999 release, Kitsune-Bi, but it still packs all the necessary ingredients: creative musicians, strong writing, and a jazz pianist to die for.

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