Composer/pianist Satoko Fujii makes it to NYC about once a year or so, so this show was indeed An Event. Though she lives in Japan (and she studied music at Berklee, incidentally), she's maintained a semi-regular American trio with Mark Dresser (bass) and Jim Black (bass), with who she's recorded several CDs on the Tzadik, Enja and Ewe labels. It was this trio that blew the roof off the mothersucka NYC jazz/etc. club Tonic on one otherwise calm 'n' cozy September night.
Fujii has a nifty style: an equal combo of Cecil Taylor/Marilyn Crispell/Don Pullen-style percussive pianism and the rhapsodic tunefulness of M. Crispell/Denny Zeitlin/Richie Beirach. Simply put, she can POUND the keyboard 'til the concrete floor begins to crack then in the wink of an eye slip into a melodic passage as catchy as anything by The Gershwin Brothers or Lennon/McCartney. Mr. Dresser has a tone as plump 'n' buoyant as Charlie Haden and as compellingly rippling as Dave Holland. He also engaged in some compelling extended techniques - simply again, wrenching un-bass-like sounds from his instrument. Jim Black is a basher, throwing himself into his drum kit (and misc. little percussion) with not fierce artistic intensity, but with big-hearted, ebullient good humor a la Han Bennink and Keith Moon. (To be sure, Black definitely can play with great subtlety -note his work in Pachora and Chris Speed's Deviantics.)
But this concert wasn't merely three persons playing at the same time - this trio shone with unified purpose, featuring tunes from Fujii's latest disc Junction. (Truth be told, though, a few of the bass and drum solos did ramble-on a wee bit for my taste.) The Satoko Fujii Trio drew a good-sized crowd (nearly filling the club) that responded most enthusiastically.