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Album Review

Satoko Fujii: Hyaku: One Hundred Dreams


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Satoko Fujii: Hyaku: One Hundred Dreams
Country music artist Merle Haggard (1937 -2016) released 66 studio albums in his day, along with five instrumental recordings and several live and compilation discs. When asked in a late-career interview if his upcoming album was a good one, he answered (paraphrasing). "I don't know. I've made so many I don't know if the next one's any good or not."

He was probably pulling the interviewer's leg. It is hard to imagine an artist presenting a new work and not thinking, "Yes, this is a great one."

Pianist, composer and bandleader Satoko Fujii has released a lot of albums, too. Hyaku: One Hundred Dreams, celebrates her one hundredth record release, more if you count Bandcamp-only sets. Each of her CDs, she says, "is a dream come true...[and] an ongoing obsession with doing what I want to do. This is my 100th album, but I am as full of excitement and nervous anticipation as I was for my first."

Yes, and it was almost certainly the same for Haggard, the sly old dog, no matter what he said in the interview.

Fujii's discography runs from solo to big band outings and everything in between. Hyaku: One Hundred Dreams features a nonet, that, under Fujii's leadership, crafts a distinctive 5-part suite which whispers and wails, swings and bops, ruminates and riots, and then noodles around with life-affirming, sometimes whimsical energy. Electronicist Ikue Mori layers in surreal backdrops; trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Natsuki Tamura inject, by turns, straight-ahead blowing and wildly avant-garde sounds.

All of that sounds as if it would make a dense weave, but it does not. The music is spacious. It breathes. The ensemble is often broken into smaller groupings. The additions of two reedists—tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck—add soothing colors not usually encountered in a Fujii outing, outside of her big bands. Add to this a rhythm section of pianist Fujii, bassist Brandon Lopez and two drummers—Tom Rainey and Chris Corsano—and you have music which veers away somewhat from the sounds of other Fujii's outings.

In a sit-down with this Hyaku—and it is recommended doing this in a straight-through listening session; things all come together—we find swinging jazz, avant-rock, chamber jazz, surreal reverie and the occasional hard-pounding, hard-blowing calamity.

A fine celebration of Satoko Fujii's 100th recording, with Schoenbeck's haunting bassoon sound (not often heard in jazz) playing a key role in the record's success.

Track Listing

One Hundred Dreams: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5.


Satoko Fujii: piano; Ingrid Laubrock: saxophone; Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Ikue Mori: electronics; Brandon Lopez: bass, acoustic; Tom Rainey: drums; Chris Corsano: drums.

Album information

Title: Hyaku: One Hundred Dreams | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Libra Records

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