Satoko Fujii-Joe Fonda

Medium: CD
Year: 2018

Availability: In stock



At the beginning of 2015, Joe Fonda and Satoko Fujii had never met. By the beginning of 2018 the American bassist and Japanese pianist had recorded three albums together. Mizu is the second keepsake from the time Fujii and Fonda had toured together in the Fall of 2017, which also produced Triad with soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo. This broke a small lull in Fujii/Fonder activity after originally convening toward the end of 2015, captured on the 2016 release Duet. Fujii needs no introduction on this space, she maintains an astounding level of both quantity and quality that demands attention for any serious discussion about improvised music. Fonda’s career likewise speaks for itself: he’s been the bassist for Anthony Braxton, Herb Robertson, Archie Shepp, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Barron, Wadada Leo Smith, Randy Weston and Carla Bley. Lately, he’s collaborated a lot with Barry Atschul, first via FAB with Billy Bang and currently within The 3Dom Factor trio with Jon Irabagon. Recorded live just days after Triad, Mizu shows the deepening musical communion between pianist and bassist, as the disc captures three of their co-composed pieces performed over two nights in Europe…probably created on the spot as these performances resemble dialogue rather than carrying out the dictates of charts. “Rik Bevernage” is a half-hour long tribute to a deceased Belgian concert promoter and record label founder. Fonda is fearless, promptly making clear he’s not here to be an accompanist. He tests the range of his bass as he puts the whole range of human emotion into it, something that clearly delights Fujii, who responds like she’s found a new musical soul mate. The enthusiasm is further attested by the grunts, laughs and vocal expressions of joy from them. There’s a part around the six-minute mark where Fonda is thrumming furiously at his strings and Fujii matches the passion almost note-for-note in an inspired display of symmetry. Later, a melancholy soliloquy from Fonda inspires a lovely passage from Fujii. But other examples of this back-and-forth abound. Fujii herself expands the range of her piano by preparing it and it certain intervals you can detect the exotic sounds that makes. At one point, Fonda is both plucking and sawing his double bass, nearly simultaneously. Near the end of the song comes a lighthearted moment when the two engage into some playful swing. “Long Journey” is ironically the shortest piece of this album, clocking in at around seven minutes. Fonda is again bringing unconventional methods of attack to his instrument. After some time probing, the two lock into a groove, a pattern that once established, they begin to dig harder into it. And then there’s “Mizu,” which means ‘water’ in Japanese. Fujii’s prepared piano emits peculiar sounds that broadly suggest Japanese folk music, but atonally. That presages Fujii using her piano as a percussion instrument, before we finally hear the familiar, eighty-eight keys sonority of that instrument. All the while, Fonda finds his own space to play in, sometimes reacting to Fujii and other times pulling her into a new direction. Over time, the two find a melody, a cyclical figure that picks up tempo and Fonda resorts to about the only musical source they hadn’t to this point used that’s available to them, his singing voice. No wait, there’s one more tool he takes from his toolbox before it all comes to an end, a flute in a delicate exchange with Fujii.(By S. Victor Aaron)