3 Questions for Satoko Fujii [VIDEO]

In these short interviews I ask musicians and composers, from various backgrounds, the same three simple questions about music.

  1. Why do you have music in your life?
  2. How do you make music?
  3. What excites you musically right now?

I will be presenting these once a week over the next few months with local, national and international musicians and composers.

In this episode I’m talking toJapanese pianist Satoko Fujii.

Satoko Fujii is one of the more exciting new voices to emerge in avant-garde jazz during the ’90s, capable of dissonant, post-Cecil Taylor free improvisation, lovely solo piano ruminations influenced by Japanese folk and classical music, and advanced big band charts given to fiery collective improvisation. In 1985, she won a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music, graduating in two years; she then played many of Japan’s major jazz clubs while supporting herself as a session musician and teacher. Fujii returned to the U.S. in 1993 to study at the New England Conservatory of Music, where her teachers included George Russell, Cecil McBee, and Paul Bley. In 1995, Fujii recorded her first American album with Bley, titled Something About Water. The follow-up, Indication, was entirely solo, at times recalling Keith Jarrett; both were critically acclaimed. In 1997, Fujii recorded an album of duets with her trumpeter husband, Natsuki Tamura, titled How Many?; in 1998, she debuted her 15-piece orchestra on the Leo album South Wind, which again received glowing reviews, and also recorded the trio album Looking Out the Window.

In the following two decades, Fujii kept growing more prolific, continuing to work with her Japanese sextet, her 15-piece and several trios; she has also collaborated with Wadada Leo Smith and, in recent years, with Australian pianist Alister Spence.

In the past couple of months alone, she released two solo albums, recorded in her piano room.