The Satoko Fujii Orchestra - East
is one of two big bands headed by pianist/composer/arranger Sakoto Fujii
. As their names would imply, the West orchestra is based in New York City, and this group, the East orchestra, is based in Fujii's native Japan. This is also Fujii's inaugural effort as a CD producer, as this is the first release on her own record label, NatSat.
The music on this CD was recorded live at the 2002 Yamaha Jazz Festival in Hamamatsu. It is an ambitious collection of free jazz and group improvisation blended with carefully executed precision ensemble passages. The orchestra, a full 15-piece big band with traditional instrumentation, is drawn from some of the best-known contemporary and avant-garde players in Japan.
Fujii's music is drawn heavily from native cultural and mystic influences, which manifest themselves in various aural effects that mimic crowds, urban street noise, and the cries of an individual who begs to be heard over constant background noise. Chorale-like somber passages erupt without warning into full-bore explosions from the band and then melt away into free solos or back into subdued ensemble tones. The soloists also use a variety of unusual techniques associated with avant-garde playing - poly-harmonics, flutter-tonguing, rapid sprays of notes, etc.
If you are an avid listener to avant-garde ensemble and solo playing, this CD is one that you probably want on your "get list", however, traditional big band listeners will probably find this disc not exactly to their taste.