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Minamo by Carla Kihlstedt / Satoko Fujii

Satoko Fujii is a Japanese pianist/composer whose (mostly) avant-garde key-cracking abilities have been raved about previously on these cyber-pages by yours truly -- Carla Kihlstedt is a San Franciscan (also New Yorker) violinist whose formidable abilities have been showcased with Balkan renegades Charming Hostess, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, ROVA (their astonishing tribute to Coltrane's Ascension on the Atavistic label), Tin Hat Trio, and more. On (at least) two occasions, these lasses' paths crossed and the results recorded for us lucky listeners.

The music could be classified, if one must, as "free" -- but it's far from a self-indulgent free-for-all. These musicians listen to each other, really listen and respond judiciously without ever sounding tentative. At times the tone of this set isn't too different from 20th century classical music (i.e., Charles Ives, Stefan Wolpe) -- sublimely graceful, cerebrally intense yet with plenty of heart. At times too this set makes fine use of pauses and "silence" without being excessive or precious about it. There's not much in the way of "swing" but their playing is informed by jazz improvisation -- also by folk music (note the sly but heartfelt Gypsy/Rom nods emanating from CK on "Remainder of One"), European classical (their rhapsodic tangents) and likely whatever these two have heard/experienced. Ms. Fujii's touch is very different from some of her other CDs -- there isn’t much in the way of volatile Pullen/Tyner/Taylor-type displays (sorry), but there is the simple beauty of Keith Jarrett and Erik Satie and the rhythmic impetus she brings to the table. Meandering (often a pitfall of live improv) is at a minimum -- these cats are inspired. While it's not exactly "easy" listening, there's nothing overbearing or foreboding about Minamo. If your range stretches from Beethoven, Ives, and/or Wolpe to Jarrett, John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Muhal Richard Abrams, and/or the NY String Trio, this is a platter to search and enjoy.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Carla Kihlstedt / Satoko Fujii
  • CD Title: Minamo
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Henceforth
  • Musicians: S. Fujii (piano), C. Kihlstedt (violin)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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