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Cloudy Then Sunny by Satoko Fujii's Junk Box

The avant garde trio of Junk Box have released their second effort, Cloudy Then Sunny on Libra Records. The trio comprises of pianist Satoko Fujii, her husband and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, and percussionist John Hollenbeck. Their independent melodic phrases and conjunctions are illustrative and innovative. Such song titles as "Alligators Running In The Sewers" and "Soldier’s Depression" automatically put a visual in the listener’s mind, and the music performed by the trio produces the sonic illustrations which accompanies the visuals. The trio’s dialogue creates surges in the lines, recessions in the melodic folds, and evocative textures and sounds that are alien to conventional jazz principles. The compositions show a proclivity to take risks and articulate their responses while working at a level that only seasoned performers have the strong bearings to execute.

If strength was measured by the level of creativity in one’s performance, the weight of Junk Box’s bar-bells would break records. The track "Back And Forth" is juiced by the exchanges between the piano and trumpet as the instruments moan and squawk along their intervals. The torrential droplets in the piano glides for "Chilly Wind" are descriptive of the song title, and the title track, "Cloudy Then Sunny" is a metaphor for the way that life seems to work. After every storm, rays of light seem to find their way through the downcast. Chord progressions are inflamed and consoling as they form smooth sonic phrases. Tempos shift from being urgent and hurried to being laid back and gently floating creating a deep sense of moodiness through the tracks. Themes of anguish and introspection ride through the instrument phrases of "Multiple Personalities," and the multiple levels of "Opera By Rats" has a subterranean gaze. "Night Came In Manhattan" synchronizes explosive piano keys with alarming trumpet gusts and lightly sprayed percussions. The resources of the musicians seems to be bottomless, delving into the massive bandwidth of the trio’s imagination and the reservoir of their influences.

Junk Box’s collective scores exemplify dissonance, versatility, and multi-textured compositions. Their compounds show a capacity to be radioactive and eclectic. The trio fluctuates between lodging their segments into each other and spreading themselves wide. The trio displays so many music ideas which come together both congruently and incongruent to each other that the listening experience becomes indescribable. The impressions made by the musicians are temporary and fleeting as they rush into their next scene and leave behind what they just imprinted. The trio literally lives in the moment on these tracks, and just as quickly as the notes arise, they fall away possibly never to be revisited again.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Satoko Fujii's Junk Box
  • CD Title: Cloudy Then Sunny
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Libra Records
  • Tracks: Computer Virus, Chilly Wind, Back And Forth, Night Came In Manhattan, Chinese Kitchen, Multiple Personalities, Opera By Rats, Alligators Running In The Sewers, Soldier’s Depression, One Equation, Cloudy Then Sunny
  • Musicians: Satoko Fujii (piano), Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), John Hollenbeck (percussionist)
  • Rating: Two Stars
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