Satoko Fujii

Primary Instrument: Piano

Born: October 9, 1958    

Satoko Fujii



“Fujii is clearly one of the most exciting musicians to come along in a while.” ” Robert Iannapollo, Cadence

“Unpredictable, wildly creative, and uncompromising…Fujii is an absolutely essential listen for anyone interested in the future of jazz.” ” Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“100 Years…100 Alumni” ” Profiling New England Conservatory’s Most Successful Alumni

Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer SATOKO FUJII as one of the most original voices in jazz today. A truly global artist, she splits her time between New York and Japan and tours internationally leading several ensembles. Just as her career spans international borders, her music spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical music, rock, and traditional Japanese music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as hers alone. Her wide-ranging compositions can incorporate the simple melodies of folk song, the harmonic sophistication of jazz, the rhythmic power of rock, and the extended forms of symphonic composers. Although Fujii’s compositions are full of sudden shifts in direction and mood, the extremes are always part of a greater conceptual whole. As an improviser, Fujii is equally wide-ranging and virtuosic. In her solos, explosive free jazz energy mingles with delicate melodicism and a broad palette of timbre and textures. She has showcased her astonishing range and ability on over 50 CDs as leader or co-leader since 1996. With each new recording or new band, she explores new aspects of her art....
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Satoko Fujii Orchestra: Talent Deserving Wider Recognition ” DownBeat Critics Poll

Rising Star: Arranger ” DownBeat Critics Poll

“Satoko Fujii is one of the more arresting new voices in jazz, an intriguing pianist and composer who in the few brief years of her career has been creating personal intersections between the music of her native Japan and the traditions of free jazz. In the process, she's developing genuinely exciting and original music.” ” Stuart Broomer, Coda

“In jazz from Ellington on, composition has entailed predetermining solo sequences ” knowing in advance not just whom to call on to sustain an established mood, but who can be trusted to anticipate what comes next. This is where Fujii excels…” ” Francis Davis, Village Voice

“Satoko Fujii is an innovative and fearless pianist who loves rough and tumble free jazz as much as she enjoys composing softer and more lyrical pieces… Jazz lovers around the world need to start taking note of her attack ” and her restraint, which is even more impressive.” ” Matt Cibula, Global Rhythm

“Mixing avant garde rock and free jazz, the Satoko Fujii Quartet, led by the intrepid, boundary-breaking pianist Fujii, is stretching the limits of jazz.” ” Michael Harrington, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Whatever you call it, this is music that demands close listening, and rewards the effort.” ” John DeFore, San Antonio Current

“Satoko Fujii… looks set to mirror the many-sided career of her famous jazz compatriot Toshiko Akiyoshi. Fujii is on the way to making the same global impression Akiyoshi did from the 1950's on ” as a virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a band-leader who gets the best collaborators to deliver.” ” John Fordham, The Guardian (UK)

“Fujii’s sound world is a kaleidoscope, and those familiar with her work have come to expect the unexpected. If any artist can be said to meet expectations by upsetting them, she’s one.” ”Mike Chamberlain, Coda

“Unpredictable, wildly creative, and uncompromising, Fujii started as a classical musician in her native Japan before the calls of improvisation and jazz asserted themselves… she has put out a series of some of the most fascinating/challenging/out-there CDs you'll find anywhere… Fujii is an absolutely essential listen for anyone interested in the future of jazz.” ” Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“Even when pursuing the most avant garde of free-jazz themes, Fujii's trio is a tight and cohesive unit... the musicians continue to successfully push the boundaries of the trio format.” ” Yoshiyuki Kitazato, Jazz Critique

“Satoko is truly one of the few great originals on the piano today.” ” Luigi Santosuosso, All About Jazz Italia

“She is as free as a bird. She is motivated to be involved in various kinds of music just out of her own playfulness, curiosity and creativity. There don’t seem to be so many artists whose instincts are as healthy as hers.””Eisuke Sato, CD Journal

“Combining the fluent technique and harmonic theory of classical music, the serene intensity of traditional Japanese aesthetics, and the risk-taking spirit of jazz, the conservatory-trained Fujii has developed a singular voice on the acoustic keyboard. One of the top jazz composer/improvisers to emerge in the last decade, she has recorded more than a dozen acclaimed albums. Her broad-minded vision strikes a balance between conventional and experimental, ranging from lush melodic phrasing on the keys to haunting timbral excursions produced on the strings inside the piano.” ” Sam Prestianni, San Francisco Weekly

“Their music captures the exuberance and freshness of first-time experiences.” ” Satoshi Kojima, Strange Days

“This woman writes big band charts that are full of big crashing textures…” ”Neil Tesser, Listen Here Radio

“Fujii's music has both lyricism and a sturdy sense of humor, and expands the possibility of “jazz” in the most authentic way.” ” Koji Murai, CD Journal

“Her piano surges with an intimidating percussive force that carries you away on golden rails.” ” Jim Santella, All About Jazz

“Whether performing with her orchestra, combo, or playing solo piano, Satoko Fujii points the listener towards the future of music itself rather than simply providing entertainment.” ” Junichi Konuma, Asahi Graph

“What amazes me is that she presents us uncompromising hard-edged music, and at the same time shows us openness to something different... There always seems to be some kind of consistent and clear 'line'. Judging from the line I captured, the essence of Satoko Fujii’s music would be her dry, humorous, slightly bitter but not twisted point of view.” ” Koji Murai, Jazz Critique

“Most noteworthy is Satoko Fujii, who surprises us with her wide spectrum of musical activities. I would like to nominate her for 'Man & Woman of the Year'.” ” Keiichi Konishi, Swing Journal

“I wondered how she could place, merge, and combine the notation with the improvisation, but she actually makes the boundary between these elements ambiguous, transforming every musical element and the players' desire into energy.” ” Junichi Konuma, CD Journal

“Satoko Fujii, an adventurous pianist and composer from Japan, has worked fruitfully over the years…” ” Nate Chinen, New York Times

“Fujii veered from percussive calamity to plaintive lyricism, remaining a thoughtful improviser throughout.” ” Kirk Silsbee, DownBeat

“It’s always a pleasure to hear something new from Satoko Fujii. She is one of the finest arrangers around, and her compositions always afford a pleasant surprise at the very least.” ” Marc Medwin, Cadence

“Her avant-garde jazz compositions are eloquent and cerebral, yet tough-minded.” ” The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Fujii’s touch is resolute, and her command of the instrument is virtuosic… Fujii’s playing is at times disarmingly beautiful and at others shockingly aggressive.” ” Adam Kinner, The Gazette (Montreal)

“The woman is bursting with musical ideas.” ” Mike Chamberlain, Ottawa Express

“Jazz, rock and world music may seem like a lot of bases to cover, but that’s typical of Fujii’s interests… Taking such an open approach to inspiration has been a boon for Fujii artistically.” ” J.D. Considine, Globe and Mail (Montreal)

“Music making sets Fujii free. Whether composing or improvising, performing or recording, she is most able to be herself in the act of (pro)creation.” ” Sam Prestianni, Seattle Weekly

“Fujii’s circling pentatonic melodies and percussive attack bring gamelan to mind, while her stately themes slowly accrue density and urgency in a manner not unlike that of the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s epic “People in Sorrow” ” and as in that 1969 masterpiece, placid surfaces are often shattered by unexpected explosions.” ” Time Out New York

“Critics have hailed her ability as a bandleader who gets the finest work from her collaborators. Where some leaders push or drive their players to new heights, she seems to enjoy going with the flow and adding just the most subtle twists and turns to keep it moving. Perhaps this is why her music is often melodic and beautiful at the point where others offer cacophony.” ” Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Province

“If you know anything about Ms. Fujii, you understand when she creates music, the listener steps into a very different world. She writes for all different sized ensembles, creating big band music that is progressive and roiling, quartet music that is both clangorous and contemplative, leads a trio that is hard-edged and pleasing and creates duo pieces that are poetic yet often fraught with tension.” ” Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant “Since emerging on the scene in the mid-’90s, pianist Satoko Fujii has quickly established herself as one of the most compelling and exciting voices in avant-garde jazz… Fujii’s recorded output reflects the wildly diverse scope of her talents and interests.” ” JazzEd

“For pianist Satoko Fujii, 50 is the new 20. That refers to her age, although you could almost believe it refers to the number of albums she’s released in 2008 alone… Four albums in a year may seem like a lot, but it’s just another year in the studio to Fujii, who is one of Japan’s most celebrated and prolific pianists and composers.” ” Jason Crane, All About Jazz

“When jazz pianist Satoko Fujii decides on something, she doesn’t do it by halves. This month the mercurial musician releases no less than four albums with different backing bands ” simultaneously… Collectively they encompass enough jazz ” from ballads to free improvisation and acoustic to electric ” to satisfy just about everyone.” ” Dan Grunebaum, Metropolis

“Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer Satoko Fujii as one of the most original voices in jazz… Just as her career spans international borders, her music spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical and traditional Japanese folk music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as hers alone.” ” The Montclair Times

“Energy ” notably a powerful, two-fisted attack on the keys ” is just one of the compelling qualities of Fujii’s chameleon-like musical presence.” ” Derk Richardson, San Francisco Chronicle

“This Japanese prodigy was trained to be a classical pianist, but in her early 20s she decided it was more fun to improvise. Now, with degrees in her pocket from the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory, she’s become an avant-garde wizard who’s unstoppable, with a dozen CDs released in the last two years alone.” ” San Francisco Chronicle

“She’s an abstract expressionist who uses clusters ” intimate fingerings ” and manages to find rhythmic motifs in free playing.” ” Los Angeles City Beat

“Fujii’s solo set in Melbourne was bold, uncompromising and strikingly original.” ” Jessica Nicholas, The Age

“She plays piano with finesse and abandon, juggles a slew of groups based both in Japan and New York, and has released an amazing string of records over the last decade ” eight this year, including four big band albums.” ” Tom Hull, Static Multimedia

  • Time Stands Still

    Not Two Records
  • Spring Storm

    Libra Records
  • Gen Himmel

    Libra Records
  • Watershed

    Libra Records
  • ETO

    Libra Records
  • Zakopane

    Libra Records
  • Desert Ship

    Not Two Records
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Events Calendar

Date Venue Ticket
Sep21 Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom; Satoko Fujii/natsuki Tamura Duo
Los Angeles, CA

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Featured recording “Gen Himmel”

Gen Himmel
Libra Records (2013)
Download jazz mp3 “Gen Himmel” by Satoko Fujii

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