Triad

Satoko Fujii, Joe Fonda, Gianni Mimmo

CD
May 2018

Tracklist

  1. Available Gravity
  2. Birthday Girl
  3. Accidental Partner
  4. No More Bugs
  5. Joe Melts The Water Boiler

Credits

SATOKO FUJII: piano
JOE FONDA: double bass, flute
GIANNI MIMMO: soprano saxophone
All music composed by Joe Fonda (GEMA), Satoko Fujii (BMI) and Gianni Mimmo

Recorded October 9th 2017 at Real Sound Studio, Milano, Italy
Sound Engineers: Paolo Falascone, Ettore Gilardoni
Editing, mixing, mastering: New Mastering Studio, Milano Italy
Sound Engineer: Maurizio Giannotti

Liner note by Gianni Mimmo
Artwork  by Elena Raffa
Produced by Fabrizio Perissinotto

An open sky, a few generous clouds, some generative perspectives, the enchantment of dust particles sparkling in a calm, slanting light.
The contemplative threshold suddenly yields ground to intriguing densities, geometrical tria-logues, intertwining lines.
Exquisite music that deals with magic suspensions, polyhedral dances, bright complexities:
The elements are just falling into place and distant paths all relate, then.
A mystical quality lies here.

Blow Up
Guido Festinee

Un critico affidabile come Daniel Barbiero ha scritto: “La musica di Mimmo si basa sul bilanciamento perfetto. E non vuol dire il bilanciamento attimo per attimo di registro, fraseggio, dinamiche, articolazione, ma un più sostanziale equilibrio tra astrazione e lirismo diretto”.

Prendiamo a prestito le due ultime definizioni: astrazione e lirismo diretto, le più adatte a descrivere l’operato costante di questo gigante italiano dell’improvvisazione, un musicista che il modo ci invidia e cui viene spesso offerta l’opportunità di lavorare più degnamente fuori dia nostri confini.

Questo bel disco, però, è nato proprio in Italia, al Real Sound studio di Milano, e per una volta siamo stati noi a ospitare i due compagni internazionali del sopranista, che ha saputo raccogliere molta dell’eredità pesante dello Steve Lacy più avventuroso, quello che sapeva inoltrarsi nei labirinti sinuosi di spire di suono, senza perdersi.

I partner di suono sono la pianista Satoko Fujii, astro fulgente della scena avantgarde-jazz nipponica, e Joe Fonda contrabbassista e notevole flautista.

Fujii e Fonda avevano già registrato in duo un disco di improvvisazione totale, ma quando Fabrizio Perissinotto ha fatto loro conoscere la musica di Mimmo è scattata subito la scintilla e la voglia di confrontarsi con quel timbro inimitabile, oggi fatto di leggerezze piumate così come di forzature estreme ma mai gratuite.

In studio la pianista orientale compiva sessant’anni, e di sicuro le resterà un ricordo di quella giornata intera di presa diretta del suono, il pianoforte ora dolcissimo, ora tumultuosamente scatenato, a proporre bufere corrusche, un po’ come ama fare la musicista Svizzera che sembra essere il riferimento diretto di Fujii, Irene Schweizer.

New York City Jazz Record
John Sharpe

Fujii’s talents as an improviser are on display on Triad , a without-a-net balancing act by her, bassist Joe Fonda and Italian reedpalyer Gianni Mimmo.

Recorded during a European tour by Fujii and Fonda to promote their impressive debut Duet (LongSong, 2016), the session came about at the suggestion of label boss Fabrizio Perissinotto, whointroduced them to Mimmo.

After the concert the previous day, they headed to the studio and embarked on a match made in heaven. It’s a pleasant surprise how well Mimmo fits in.

A onetime student of the great Steve Lacy, Mimmo specializes in the soprano saxophone, developing a rich toned-voice, equal parts songlike and abstract.

Empathy abounds, most notably on the stunning 42-minute “Birthday Girl”.

It evolves so naturally from one episode to another, from dashing interplay to dramatic gesture to pointillist exchange, it seem governed by its own internal logic.

As the piece winds  towards a climax, both Fonda and Fujii reveal themselves as form-seeking improvisers, settling into propulsive yet lyrical vamp while Mimmo soars fitfully, occasionally alighting on long held tones.

A series of short tracks that plumb a seeming bottomless well of invention round out the album. Saxophone overtones glacially intertwine with Fonda’s flute against vibrating piano strings on “Available Gravity” to create a mysterious opener while on “Accidental Partner” the joint pauses speak further on the shared ethos permeating the entire disc.

Downbeat
Alain Druot

In 2018, Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii is celebrating her 60th birthday with the release of a new recording each month.

Triad, which features bassist Joe Fonda and Italain soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo, a newcomer to Fuji’s musical universe, is one of her latest offerings.

"Birthday Girl”, a piece of epic proportions, is impossible to summarize but can be viewed as a one-act opera with a prologue and a series of scenes that ebb and flow. On equal footing, the three protagonists constantly switch roles, instigators one moment and mere support the next. The mood oscillates between deep introspection and intense communion, all three musicians capable of lyricism, without falling into sentimentalism. 

Fonda plays his cards right, his inspired arco work often fanning the flames between Fujii and Mimmo. He also is responsible for carrying the troupe over the finish line by laying out an irresistible groove.

Neither Fujii nor Fonda had heard of Mimmo before they planned their first meeting. Under these circumstances, Triad ends up being a successful plunge into the unknown, as well as a reminder that the free improvisation is at its best when musicians can establish an immediate connection and are fully committed to a project.

Sands Zine
Mario Biserni

Ecco a voi due CD realizzati da un trio e da un quartetto con strumentisti provenienti da Giappone e Stati Uniti, Svizzera e Argentina e, naturalmente, Italia. Fra i due gruppi esistono altre condivisioni, oltre a queste caratteristiche internazionali, quali la presenza di sassofonisti, Gianni Mimmo e Christoph Gallio, dichiaratamente discepoli di Steve Lacy. Un altro punto in comune è la disposizione a cimentarsi sia sulle brevi sia sulle lunghe distanze (Birthday GirlPersea Lingue e Inga durano rispettivamente qurantadue, venti e quindici minuti).
Oltre a una così ampia escursione geografica, è palpabile pure un’escursione di tipo esperenziale. Joe Fonda, in particolare, proviene da lontano e vanta una miriade pazzesca di associazioni, fra le quali quelle con i chicagoani Anthony Braxton e Leo Smith (nel suo sito joefonda.com potete prendere visione di una discografia pressoché sterminata).
Quasi illimitata appare pure la discografia della Fujii, con numerose collaborazioni che vanno da quella con il batterista Tatsuya Yoshida a quella con Carla Kihlstedt. Particolare rilevanza, dacché conducono dritti a questo trio, assumono le sue recenti esperienze in duo con Joe Fonda. Il suo tocco, dalle forti reminescenze classiche, può essere ricondotto soprattutto a pianisti come Paul Bley e Bill Evans.
Ritengo inutile soffermarmi nuovamente su un Mimmo che è già stato trattato in numerose recensioni e, in tempi piuttosto recenti, in una lunga intervista (la trovate al link riportato sopra).
Queste note, comunque ristrette, già possono far intendere la sostanza di un disco che raccoglie nei suoi solchi la tradizione delle musiche improvvisate giapponesi, nordamericane ed europee. Non solo, in “Triad” è possibile cogliere più nello specifico influenze che vanno dalla creative music chicagoana alla new music colemaniana in un percorso che, passando per il connubio anglo-tedesco fra Evan Parker e Alex Von Schlippenbach, porta inevitabilmente alla figura basilare di Thelonious Monk.
Quello che più colpisce, oltre alla coesione da manuale mostrata dai tre, è la notevole tensione melodica che non esce mai affievolita, neppure nei passaggi più dissonanti. “Triad” è un disco che può conquistare sia gli appassionati della sperimentazione più estrema sia coloro che nella musica ricercano quella godibilità tipica della grande composizione classica. Non mi stupisce che, come mi ha riferito lo stesso Mimmo, la prima tiratura sia andata a ruba e sia già in circolazione una prima ristampa.

Distorsioni
Nicola Barin

La pianista Satoko Fujii ha compiuto sessant’anni e festeggiato il ragguardevole traguardo facendo uscire il progetto “Triad”, album registrato in Italia, per la piccola ma multiforme etichetta italiana Long Song Records, in compagnia di Joe Fonda al contrabbasso e flauto e Gianni Mimmo al sassofono soprano. La pianista nipponica ha alle spalle una carriera multiforme con diversi organici: dalle forme orchestrali fino ai quartetti e duetti. Dopo il progetto “Duet” con Fondasempre per l’etichetta italiana, “Triad” vede l’inserimento di Gianni Mimmo, compositore, sassofonista tra i più radicali, direttore artistico e fondatore dell’etichetta Amirani Records.L’improvvisazione qui è totale, il brano principale, Birthday Girl, ha un durata di quarantadue minuti nei quali tutte le declinazioni del free jazz vengono esposte. Si parte subito con una contrapposizione di climi, ritmi e melodie contrapposte. Mimmo e  Fujii che instaurano dei soliloqui empatici con assenza di trame armoniche. Dopo i primi cinque minuti il contesto è mutato. Fonda percuote il contrabbasso tentando di sradicarne energia e rumori inediti, riparte il magnifico timbro del sassofono costruito su scale, virtuosismi e growl. Il tentativo è  la pura ricerca musicale timbrica, la determinata coerenza a capire:  che cosa può uno strumento? Quali sono i suoi limiti e come ampliarli? Satoko Fujii (nella foto sotto a destra) espone, o perlomeno, decostruisce brevi accordi con una notevole ambiguità tematica. L’energia, la sofferenza si manifestano magicamente.

Le altre tracce, tutte di una durata di qualche minuto, si concentrano sulle atmosfere, sulle sensazioni primordiali, quasi dei brani ambient. Available Gravity vede il flauto di Fonda protagonista che ci trasporta in un luogo assente, privo di gravità, a discapito del titolo. Accidental Partner tenta quasi di accennare un tema, una struttura, con l’archetto di Fonda che tocca le note più profonde del suo strumento. Joe Melts The Water Boiler appare quasi un blues nascosto, camuffato, tre minuti di parossismi ed esacerbazioni musicali, un piccolo capolavoro. Ricerca, energia, libertà compositiva, citazioni, incongruità musicali, tutto questo e forse ancora non basta per descrivere una “opera aperta” citando il compianto Umberto Eco

L'Isola che non c'era
Alberto Bazzurro

Se Liebman è uno dei sommi sacerdoti del sax soprano, il pontefice massimo (anche per la sua monogamia) ne è certo Steve Lacy, che pur senza rimandi diretti fa capolino in Triad (Long Song; foto sotto), comparendovi il soprano (appunto) di Gianni Mimmo, con Satoko Fujii al piano e Joe Fonda al contrabbasso (e, a sorpresa, flauto). Il disco, che rientra nel programma “un cd al mese” con cui la pianista giapponese vuol celebrare il 2018 in quanto anno dei suoi sessanta (il 9 ottobre), è un’autentica gemma, sperimentale quanto nitido, con una logica ferrea e un senso della forma assolutamente invidiabile (trattasi, anche qui, di improvvisazione totale).

The Arts Fuse
Steve Feeney

... Moving on to Triad, the forty minute-plus “Birthday Girl” is clearly the album’s major statement. Mimmo’s soprano contributions instantly suggest Steve Lacy’s erudite but slightly unhinged brand of lyricism. Mimmo dances nimbly atop Fujii’s alternately sweeping and pointillistic spasms of sound. Fonda comes in and signals an attempt to bring things back to earth. He bends low tones as Fujji offers inner-piano squeaks and scrapes. Mimmo contributes bird-like flourishes. A sense of tentativeness would prevail if it weren’t for the saxophonist’s ability to summon the pair gradually back to order.

Fonda’s drone sounds, the pianist supplies some reassuring tension, and Mimmo goes all in with cries that end all too soon. Fujii then begins to pound out a single repeated note, drawing Fonda into a rapid-fire solo joined by Mimmo and the pianist, which generates a high-energy, three-way conversation. Plenty of intense agitation here, but it is not a hostile cacophony. At a concert, this is where listeners would start rocking in their chairs.

Quiet returns, of course, The members of the trio, having dealt with each other through … something of an experience … seem to have emerged in a pensive mood. A flute/soprano colloquy supplies cathartic notes of peace, but Fujii, never satisfied, still wants to see what’s around the next corner  — and forges ahead to the next peak....

Pop Matters
John Garratt

... The Triad album is a bit of an outlier for the Fujii canon since it is not released on her Libra label. It's also a complete jam cooperative. All five songs are attributed to all three instrumentalists. And while Fujii is by no means new to the art of the long song, Triad has one ridiculously long track named "Birthday Girl" that clocks in at 42 minutes and 12 seconds. That's 75% of the album -- an album unto itself. The other four songs give you only 14 minutes of music, so your opinion of Triad will most likely be derived from your opinion of "Birthday Girl". As one might expect, the trio do not use 40 minutes of your time to drive a singular idea into the ground. They use it to explore the louds and softs of their instruments, the harmony and discord of their chemistry, and to fluctuate the tempos that sometimes barely exist. During tracks like "Birthday Girl" and the opening track "Available Gravity", Satoko Fujii demonstrates a remarkable amount of restraint by staying completely silent during certain passages. Fonda gives his instrument a subtle shading through bowing while Gianni Mimmo uses his circular breathing abilities to make either beautiful melodies or shrieking noises. Fujii, who has the ability to make a piano roar, rarely takes the opportunity to do so....

Exposè
Peter Thelen

Triad came about as Fujii (piano) and Fonda (double bass & flute) were planning a European tour following their 2016 Duet album, and were in touch with Long Song label owner Fabrizio Perissinotto, who released that album, to find opportunities to perform in Italy. Perissinotto suggested that they collaborate with his friend and sax player Gianni Mimmo while all were available. Fonda and Fujii listened to some of Mimmo’s music and had a good feeling about it, so a concert and recording session were arranged. The concert was on October 8th 2017, their first performance ever, and the recording was done the following day on October 9th at Real Sound Studios in Milano. This sounds like a trio that has been playing together for years, with a deep level of confidence and near-telepathic communication as they freely improvise, and compose as they go. Unlike most other projects featuring Fujii that we have reviewed, there is no trumpet, as well as no percussion, giving Triad a very different sound by comparison, a softer sonic fabric on which their creative consciousnesses coalesce, fully appreciating that each player is adding elements to something that is evolving in their midst, and understanding the value of silence as well, that even in a trio setting it’s important that all players are not playing all the time. Mimmo’s sax blends perfectly with Fonda’s bass and flute, as well as Fujii’s melodic piano punctuations, but whatever is added to their collective canvas is done sparingly and with precision, until every piece of the puzzle magically comes together. The centerpiece here is the 42 minute improvisation “Birthday Girl” (the sessions took place on Fujii’s 59th birthday), and while one can listen carefully and hear the telepathy in action between the three, it transcends much of the chaotic aspects that free improvisation is normally associated with. Yes there is some crazy blowing here and there, but more often it’s the gentle sensitivty that shines through in beautiful colors. Four shorter pieces round out the set for a total just shy of one hour in length. The overallresult here is something very unique and different – yes it is a bit like Duet, but the added element of Mimmo’s sax adds additional color and structure to the overall fabric. Of all the Fujii releases so far this year in her one-per-month 60th birthday celebration, for me, Triad is the most special.

Jazz Da Gama
Raul da Gama

The music of Triad for piano and a small ensemble including contrabass, flute and soprano saxophone is a profound excursion for the musicians and also for the wind instruments. It features Miss Fujii in an incantatory style at its simplest and most persuasive. Though it is rather freewheeling in material and effect than perhaps some of her other reductionist work, the influence of wild runs and vaulting arpeggios is often punctuated by one-note impressions and long-held drones in the undulant melodies played with arco bass and/or airy saxophone and flute. This underpinning of the various haunting melodies often returns obsessively to the same pitches. Meditative and static for the most part, Miss Fujii’s hypnotic repetitions gradually flower into melodic lines of ever-greater complexity than before and with characteristic gestures from Joe Fonda and Gianni Mimmo, the works fructify attaining a level of beauty that is beyond the limits of anything written or improvised.

http://orynx-improvandsounds.blogspot.com/
J-M Van Schouwburg

La pianiste Sakoto Fuji, le contrebassiste et flûtiste Joe Fondaet le saxophoniste soprano Gianni Mimmo. Un réel triologue ou trialogue, à la fois intense, épuré, complexe, physique et sensuel. La contrebasse de Joe Fonda allie une saveur boisée et puissance mélodique au service entier de la musique du trio. La remarquable pianiste, Sakoto Fuji, que j’ai souvent trouvée trop sage à mon goût, maîtrise le clavier et investit l’espace sonore avec son toucher lyrique et transparent et une belle énergie. C’est l’occasion pour le saxophoniste Gianni Mimmo de s’envoler et de s’éclater en usant de sa capacité sensible à parcourir un réseau labyrinthique d’intervalles et d’harmonies dignes de ses meilleurs collègues. Il lui avait été reproché (esprits chagrins ou esthètes impitoyables) de resservir les formules de Steve Lacy. À l’écoute, la référence au maître est seulement évoquée, car Gianni Mimmo est son propre inventeur. Jouer à ce niveau avec ce phrasé et cette marque sonore personnelle n’est pas à la portée du premier venu, même dépositaire d’un diplôme prestigieux. On l’entend aussi tâter avec succès dans le registre bruissant du soprano, un instrument difficile, faut-il le répéter. Il y a là l’expression d’un parcours qui ne s’invente pas : le travail de toute une vie. Et c’est bien ce qui tranche à l’écoute de Triad : ces trois improvisateurs sont ici toute ouïe et  partagent l’expression musicale collective de la vie tout court sans faux fuyants en dehors des clichés et des clins d’yeux factices. Création 100% instantanée. Sakoto Fuji a trouvé ici une des meilleures formations avec la quelle elle a travaillé jusqu’à présent : lumineuse, organique, équilibrée qui nous transporte dans un univers onirique. La participation entière de Joe Fonda, un grand original,  apporte un supplément de vécu avec ses doigtés qui n’appartiennent qu’à lui et ce son de pizzicato charnu si particulier. Un bel ouvrage ! Comme souvent chez Long Song, label italien pointu, une tranche de vie qui instille l’amour de l’improvisation.

PopMatters
John Garrat

The Triad album is a bit of an outlier for the Fujii canon since it is not released on her Libra label. It's also a complete jam cooperative. All five songs are attributed to all three instrumentalists. And while Fujii is by no means new to the art of the long song, Triad has one ridiculously long track named "Birthday Girl" that clocks in at 42 minutes and 12 seconds. That's 75% of the album -- an album unto itself. The other four songs give you only 14 minutes of music, so your opinion of Triad will most likely be derived from your opinion of "Birthday Girl”.

As one might expect, the trio do not use 40 minutes of your time to drive a singular idea into the ground. They use it to explore the louds and softs of their instruments, the harmony and discord of their chemistry, and to fluctuate the tempos that sometimes barely exist. During tracks like "Birthday Girl" and the opening track "Available Gravity", Satoko Fujii demonstrates a remarkable amount of restraint by staying completely silent during certain passages. Fonda gives his instrument a subtle shading through bowing while Gianni Mimmo uses his circular breathing abilities to make either beautiful melodies or shrieking noises. Fujii, who has the ability to make a piano roar, rarely takes the opportunity to do so.

Blow Up
Enrico Bettinello

Quando la pianista Satoko Fujii e il contrabbassista  Joe Fonda (già insieme nel pregevole “Duet” del 2016) si rivolsero al produttore Fabrizio Perissinotto della Long Song per qualche suggerimento in terra italica, nacque la conoscenza con il sopranista Gianni Mimmo (figura originale e in qualche modo eccentrica della scena impero italiana), con cui scattò feeling immediato. 

Dalla seduta di registrazione che ne è derivata, ecco qui un’oretta scarsa di sensibilissima capacità di ascoltarsi e muovere i segni del rispettivo linguaggio dentro forme mutevoli quanto intense.

Scorre la bellezza, senza frizioni, e i tre la assecondano come si conviene.

Bad Alchemy 99
Rigoberto Dittmann

Ausnahmsweise ohne Tamura hat unser 'Birthday Girl' in Mailand Triad (Long Song Records, LSRCD142/2018) eingespielt. Mit Kontrabassmeister JOE FONDA, den man nach ihrer Hom- mage an 'Paul Bley' auf "Duet" (2016) und ihrer Europa-Tour 2017 kaum einen 'Accidental Partner' nennen kann. Das gilt nur für den Sopransaxophonisten GIANNI MIMMO. Er, der letztes Jahr schon seinen 60. feierte, gibt mir das Gefühl, dass an Paralleluniversen was dran sein könnte, so wie er sich da, bevorzugt mit Gianni Lenoci (in Fonosextant und Reci- procal Uncles), mit Gasser & Harnik als Wild Chamber Trio, mit Alison Blunt oder mit Yoko Miura, immer knapp außerhalb meines Radars bewegt hat. Allerdings war er auch für SA- TOKO FUJII und Fonda ein First Date, mit dem sie Fühlung aufnahmen, indem er zur Flöte und sie harfend und klopfend ins Innenklavier griff und so seine Sopranolangwellen um- kreisten. Zu Fondas zirpendem Bogen und sonorem Pizzicato wird Mimmos Ton gleich viel vogeliger, ganz die romanisch-melodische, um nicht zu sagen katholische Schule, um sie von der protestantischen weiter nördlich abzuheben. Wie auch immer, da können Fujii und Fonda klopfen und plonken wie sie wollen, Mimmo trillert mit einer übersprudelnden Her- zenslust, der sie nur mit Feeling und Fingerspitzengefühl begegnen können. Sie perlend, er krabbelig und wieder zirpend, gemeinsam empfindsam und mit melancholischer Gefasst- heit, falls es stürmischer werden sollte. Und es wird stürmischer, mit pianistischer Turbu- lenz und Rambazamba (kicking up a fuss) auf den Saiten, bei dem auch bei Mimmo die Spatzen durch die Hecken spritzen. Erst mit der Dämmerung lässt die Aufregung nach, doch geht der Tag mit einer Serenade der Flöte und des Sopranos nicht zuende, sondern über ins Nachtaktive und ins Träumerische, für das die drei ihrer Phantasie freien Lauf lassen. Was diesen dramatischen 42 Min. (!) folgt, sind drei kleine, extra feine Nahaufnahmen, eine melancholische und zwei überdreht rumorende und quirlig klirrende.

Vynilmine

Έχουμε γράψει σε παλαιότερες αναρτήσεις πως η ιαπωνίδα πιανίστρια, συνθέτρια και αυτοσχεδιάστρια Satoko Fujiiσυμπληρώνει εφέτος τα 60 χρόνια της – κάτι που θα το γιορτάσει, όπως η ίδια έχει ανακοινώσει, με την κυκλοφορία δώδεκα άλμπουμ της. (Θαυμαστικό δεν βάζουμε, καθότι η «άπειρη», μέχρι σήμερα, δισκογραφία τής Fujii δεν μας το επιτρέπει). Έτσι, και έως ώρας, στο δισκορυχείον υπάρχουν κριτικές για τα άλμπουμ της “Solo”, “Atody Man” με τους Kaze, “Ninety-Nine Years” με την Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin και “Bright Force” με τους Kira Kira (όλα στη Libra Records). Συνεχίζοντας, λοιπόν, προς αυτή την κατεύθυνση, παρουσιάζουμε τώρα το “Triad”, τη συνεργασία της με τον κοντραμπασίστα και φλαουτίστα JoeFonda και τον σοπρανίστα Gianni Mimmo. Το άλμπουμ είναι ηχογραφημένο στο Μιλάνο τον Οκτώβριο του 2017 και κυκλοφορεί, αυτές τις μέρες, από την ιταλική Long Song Records. 

Τόσο ο Joe Fonda, όσο βεβαίως και ο Gianni Mimmo είναι παλαιοί μας γνώριμοι. Ο Fonda έχει υπάρξει μέλος των σχημάτων Barry Altschul & 3Dom Factor, Katie Bull Group Project, Conference Call κ.ά., ενώ έχει κάνει κι ένα άλμπουμ (ως ντούο) με την Fujii το 2016 (επίσης στην Long Song), ο δε Mimmo συχνά-πυκνά φιλοξενείται στα ποστ του δισκορυχείου είτε μέσα από τις προσωπικές δουλειές του, είτε από τη συμμετοχή του σε projectsτής (δικής του) Amirani Records. Σε γενικές γραμμές θα λέγαμε πως πρόκειται για δύο αυτοσχεδιαστές με τρανή ιστορία και φυσικά με την προσήκουσα ευελιξία… στο να βρίσκονται πάντα κοντά σε νέους σχηματισμούς, προβάλλοντας το improv.
 
Στο “Triad” οι βασικοί γνωστοί ήταν οι Fujii και Fonda (λόγω και του δικού τους “Duet” στην Long Song), ενώ συνδετικός κρίκος ανάμεσα στους δύο και τον Mimmo υπήρξε ο ιταλός ιδιοκτήτης της εταιρείας, ο Fabrizio Perissinotto (έχει φιλοξενήσει τον Mimmo στο ρόστερ του), ο οποίος και έκανε τις συστάσεις. Το αποτέλεσμα υπήρξε άμεσο… και τώρα το ακούμε.
 
Το “Triad” περιλαμβάνει πέντε tracks – και ανάμεσά τους το 42 λεπτών(!) “Birthday girl” (τα είπαμε για τα 60χρονα της Ιαπωνίδας). Μάλιστα, στο εισαγωγικό “Available gravity” φανερώνονται από την αρχή τα βασικά χαρακτηριστικά της μουσικής τού τρίο. Υπάρχει το φλάουτο του Fonda που μελωδεί μπροστά, ενώ πίσω παρατάσσεται μια σειρά από χαλαρά patterns– βασικά «εσωτερικοί» πιανιστικοί θόρυβοι τής Fujii συν κάποιες «κακοφωνίες», που ενίοτε μοιάζουν με αναδράσεις. Στο 42λεπτο “Birthday girl”, που ακολουθεί, θα λέγαμε πως… από εδώ ξεκινάνε και τελειώνουν όλα. Δεν είναι μόνον η επιβολή, στ’ αυτιά μας, του συγκεκριμένου track δια του όγκου του, είναι κυρίως το γεγονός της… καθαρογραφής μιας επικοινωνίας, που είναι αμείλικτη και βεβαίως εν τω γεννάσθαι. Δεν είναι εύκολο να είσαι 42 λεπτά… on line, υλοποιώντας ένα σχέδιο – όσο χαλαρό και ακαθόριστο στη διαδρομή του και να είναι αυτό. Απαιτούνται κοινές βάσεις, κοινή αισθητική άποψη και ανάλυση και βασικά η ευχέρεια, κατακτημένη στις σκηνές και τα πάλκα, να δημιουργείς νέους αυθόρμητους ήχους, που να δίνουν το έναυσμα στους συνοδοιπόρους σου να σε αντιλαμβάνονται και να σε ακολουθούν. Και αυτό να γίνεται άλλοτε κυκλικά, και άλλοτε ακαθόριστα, αλλά πάντα με το ίδιο αναπάντεχο αποτέλεσμα στην τελική καταγραφή του.
Μαθήματα παραδίδουν οι άνθρωποι…
The Free Jazz Collective
Antonio Poscic

The precursor to Triad, Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda’s dazzling Duet, was one of 2016’s most delightful records and the first encounter of these two greats. Arriving from opposite sides of the free jazz/improv spectrum—one from the forefront of avant-jazz and free improvisation that flirts with modern composition, the other from the fiery spheres of “traditional” free jazz—Fujii and Fonda immediately clicked, achieving a symbiosis of styles, and crafted an inspired piece of music. For their second album together, they’re joined by Italian soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo, a prolific, creative musician whose output should be familiar to anyone following the intriguing label Amirani Records.

Much like the whole record, Triad’s opening “Available Gravity” is an idiosyncratic improvised cut, uncharacteristic for its performers. It reads as an abstract retelling of haunting and haunted folklore delivered through the voices of Joe Fonda’s romantic wooden flute, the tinkling knocks of Satoko Fujii’s piano strings, and the grating flutter of Gianni Mimmo’s saxophone splurts. This beautifully subdued track, along with three other shorts “Accidental Partner”, “No More Bugs”, and “Joe Melts the Water Boiler”, serves as a comforting satellite for the forty minutes long centerpiece “Birthday Girl”. Performed and recorded in Milan on Satoko Fujji’s 59th birthday, “Birthday Girl” is Triad’s focal point, an enthralling, oft exhilarating tour de force and celebration of improvisation.

While the piece starts calmly, almost carelessly, it soon picks up pace as Fonda’s forceful and playful double bass plucks are accompanied by Fujii’s characteristic forte playing and incisiveness. In a space between them, Mimmo’s saxophone draws lyrical lines interrupted only by the occasional discordant, energetic blow. Throughout, the musicians play in unison rather than against each other, exchanging ideas, evolving them individually, and reconciling them collectively. There’s a wonderful recurring circularity in the way that Fonda, Fujii, and Mimmo fervently repeat notes, imparting more heaviness and resolve in each cycle, whilst also creating an overarching structure. Their individual styles remain recognizable, yet also strain and contort to accomodate this new and unexplored context.

Elsewhere in the track, the trio entertains an accelerating, rhythmical, and oriental-sounding passage that leads into the first of several Fujii’s explosive solos. The solo is disrupted when Mimmo starts screeching and spouting furious lines, betraying the lyricism that came before. Soon Fujii reaches for the insides of her (possibly prepared) piano and the improvisation morphs into a faux chamber piece. Along the way, as the trio shifts in and out of configurations, one of Mimmo’s solos is rendered especially compelling by a sustained tone that gets out of control, while during a charged and wild duet with Fujii, Fonda can be heard shouting out an impassioned “yeah”.

As the song comes to a close, the musicians find themselves in a delicate post-bop section, brimming with emotion, led by Fonda’s galloping bass, Fujii’s tasteful piano accents, and Mimmo’s elongated, tuneful sounds. The players’ approaches warp again as the album closes in a fervent crescendo with Fujii and Mimmo playing faster and harder yet remaining faithful to a certain intermittent musicality.

After the final notes of “Birthday Girl” fade, Fujii, Fonda, and Mimmo showcase three breezy self-contained miniatures. “Accidental Partner” provides some layered and calm respite focused on Fonda's bowed lines, “No More Bugs” rebukes with nervous and fragmented interplay of instruments dancing spasmodically, while “Joe Melts The Water Boiler” gives the already excellent Triad its exclamation point through a groovy collective improvisation.

Avant Music News
Daniel Barbiero
In October of this year Japanese pianist/composer Satoko Fujii will celebrate her 60th birthday; to mark the occasion she’s decided to release one CD per month for 2018. Two of these releases, each featuring Fujii in a trio setting, are a testament to the diversity of her musical interests and her willingness to take risks at the initiation of what in Japan is celebrated as a new, auspicious stage of life. The second trio consists of American double bassist Joe Fonda and Italian soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo. Unlike the standing trio with Tamura and Itani, this trio was put together for the occasion. Fujii and Fonda have a longstanding musical relationship, but Mimmo was a new factor. The set of improvisations was recorded in Milan on 9 October 2017, Fujii’s 59th birthday and the day after the three had played a concert—the latter being the first time they’d played together as a trio. One wouldn’t know it from listening to the music, which coheres as a tight fusion of compatible sensibilities. The three seem to share a sense of improvisation’s ability to trace a quasi-narrative cycle, which here takes the form of a long-term oscillation, consisting in waves of expressionistic intensity dissolving into introspective duets or solos. All five pieces, including the forty-minute-long Birthday Girl, show a remarkable attention to structure; the playing is in the moment, as is all good free improvisation, but every moment also seems to anticipate not only what the next moment will be, but what, given the current state of things, it should be. Fujii is an intuitive pianist who seems to approach improvisation with a composer’s sensitivity; she can fill audio space with cascades of sound or can allow ample breathing room with sparser, quasi-premeditated pitch collections. Mimmo—who was an inspired choice for making the Fujii-Fonda duo a trio–plays with characteristically refined lyricism leavened by timbral experimentation at the edges; his finely etched lines never lose definition, even at extremes of volumes and speed. Fonda’s forceful and often percussive voice provides a solid foundation; even in this free context he conserves the bass’s traditional function as anchor. Occasionally he switches to wood flute, which makes for a surprising, and surprisingly engaging, color contrast.
All About Jazz
Mark Corroto

It's difficult to cherry pick recordings from pianist Satoko Fujii's 60th-year birthday celebration releases that are coming at us every month in 2018. There are solo recordings, sessions with her various jazz orchestras, duos, trios and quartets. Can you pinpoint her as a composer, arranger, or improviser? Yes, yes, and yes. She's accomplished in every aspect of jazz, from free to noted and folk to avant-garde. Her creative energies burn as brightly as that of David Murray in the 1990s, and Ivo Perelman in this new century. This trio recording with bassist Joe Fonda and saxophonist Gianni Mimmo is an excellent example of the universality of her approach. While she had recorded with Fonda previously in 2015 Duet (Long Song, 2016) and toured with the bassist in 2017, this session was made a day after Fujii and Fonda's first performance with the Italian saxophonist. It is remarkable how quickly this trio comes together to produces this fully formed outing.

Ivan Rod

Den japanske avantgardejazzmusiker, pianisten Satoko Fujii, bliver 60 år og fejrer det blandt andet ved at udgive et nyt album, hver måned i dette år. Heriblandt det 100 procent improviserede album, Triad, som hun har indspillet i et italiensk studie sammen med sin gamle, amerikanske makker, kontrabassisten Joe Fonda, og den til lejligheden indrullerede italiener, sopransaxofonisten Gianni Mimmo. Overraskende nok er de tres improvisationsmusik ikke på noget tidspunkt forceret. Den er nok udfordrende – for musikerne såvel som lytterne – men også graciøs og fascinerende. Og det altså til trods for det faktum, at Fujii og Fonda ikke kendte Mimmo, før de stod i Italien og skulle præstere. Og til trods for, at intet på forhånd var givet. De tre lytter, har en næsten telepatisk kontakt til hinanden, holder tilsyneladende ubesværet et fælles fokus, udforsker muligheder, udtryk, dynamikker og skaber et album, der – som avantgardejazz betragtet – er noget af det mest formfuldendte, jeg længe har hørt.

Jazz Weekly
George W. Harris
Sonic Jackson Pollocks hit the canvas of your ears… Fujii teams with Joe Fonda/b-fl and Gianni Mimmo/ss on four originals that give images of space explorations. Piano strings strum along atmospheric flute on “Available Gravity” with bowed bass and abstract ivories create a ionic distribution on ”Birthday Girl.” Lurking piano notes scurry during ”Joe Melts the Water Boiler” after the reeds screech and scrape for “No More Bugs.” Boldly going where no man has gone before?
The Rehearsal Studio
Stephen Smoliar

As might be guessed, Triad is a trio album. Fujii is joined by Gianni Mimmo on soprano saxophone and Joe Fonda, who divides his efforts between flute and bass. This is the album that comes closest to an explicit acknowledgement of the entire project. Almost all of the CD is occupied by the second track, an improvisation lasting slightly more than 40 minutes entitled “Birthday Girl.”

If my familiarity with Fujii’s work were more extensive and my memory was more acute, I might be able to make a case for this piece having retrospective qualities; but my listening skills are not quite good enough to support my going out on that limb. Instead, I can draw upon my own rich past of listening to extended improvisations by jazz giants such as John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor (particularly the latter). Indeed, when I recently read Adam Shatz’ extended obituary for Taylor, which was posted on the NYR Daily Web site of The New York Review of Books, I was as impressed with his “laundry list” of “three or four generations of musicians” to have been inspired by Taylor as I was dismayed to see that Fujii had not made it onto that list.

The conditions under which Triad was recorded again deserve to be acknowledged. While Fujii had released an album with Fonda, entitled simply Duet, in October of 2016, the first time that Mimmo played with these two musicians was the night before the recording was made. This prompts two key observations. The first is that there is never any sign that Mimmo is holding back as the “junior member” of this partnership. The second is that the improvisatory techniques that unfold over the entire album, not just in “Birthday Girl,” suggests a strong bond of communication among all three of the players. If that communication was a result of little more that knowing just how to respond to attentive listening, that speaks volumes about both the technique and the inventive capacity of all three of the players.

All About Jazz
Karl Ackermann

Triad is the fifth of twelve monthly albums to be released as part of pianist-composer Satoko Fujii's extended celebration of her sixtieth birthday. It is also her second album with the legendary American bassist Joe Fonda. Duet (Long Song Records, 2016), recorded live in Portland, Maine in 2015, had brought the pair together at Fonda's request though the two were barely familiar with each other's music. Despite the album title, one of the two tracks included Fujii's trumpeter husband Natsuki Tamura who did not receive upfront billing. On Triad, the cover credits precisely reflect the presence of Italian saxophonist Gianni Mimmo whose music, coincidentally, was also unfamiliar to both Fujii and Fonda. Mimmo is not well-known outside Europe though he has toured extensively on that continent and in the US. He favors the soprano sax and has developed a reputation for his experimental work with extended techniques. He has been performing with one the UK's leading improvisational guitarists, John Russell, for ten years, and fellow Italian pianist/experimentalist Gianni Lenoci and German reed player Peter Brötzmann. Mimmo has recorded on two dozen albums as a leader or co-leader. As she did on her previous Fonda outing, Fujii anchors Triad with an exceptionally long piece, the forty two-minute "Birthday Girl." The extended piece, like some of the shorter compositions that surround it, has elements of classical chamber music, avant-garde and free jazz. With no bass or drums, and Fonda doubling on flute, much of the music is in the upper register, though Fujii uses her instrument for occasional low-end percussive effects. Other tracks such as "Available Gravity" and "No More Bugs" are more abstract; the former being ethereal and the latter, more aggressive. Triad is different from much of Fujii's work in that themes—such as they are—do not often stray as far from their core, especially on the shorter pieces that each clock in at less than five minutes. Nicely balanced between the meditative ("Accidental Partner") and the boisterous ("Joe Melts the Water Boiler"), the album has no shortage of either hypnotically discreet moments or wildly swinging passages. This unique trio seems to have evolved out of a series of chance encounters and it succeeds with completely original ideas and musicianship.

Midwest Recorda
Chris Spector

As Satoko Fujii continues her birthday record release marathon, here we find her trying on yet a new skin debuting this trio in this format. Recorded on her actual birthday, they day after they played together for the first time, this is art jazz going to logical extremes giving you the other side of early 70s creative civil rights jazz when art took the wheel instead of anger. Left leaning improv fans will find solace in the set's minimalism.

JazzTokyo
Kimo Oikawa

ピアノ、ベース、フルート、ソプラノサックスの音が乱舞する。一つ一つを明確に浮き出すより、混濁から覚めた瞬間にぱっと各楽器が浮き出るサウンド。
ピアノを取り巻くミュージシャンとのバランスが表現の要。ピアノのサウンドはデッドの中にあり、ベースのオンマイクが拾った胴鳴りまで感じてしまう感覚が骨格をつくり、表にソプラノサックスの強烈音響が響く。バランスが音像を造る仕掛けだ。

DMG
Bruce Lee Gallanter

Featuring Satoko Fujii on piano, Joe Fonda on contrabass & flute and Gianni Mimmo on soprano sax. Both pianist Satoko Fujii and bassist Joe Fonda should be no strangers to most of you serious listeners. On the other hand, Italian soprano saxist Gianni Mimmo, might be a bit more obscure. He shouldn’t be to those in the know since he runs the Amirani label and has played with Lol Coxhill, Daniel Levin and Stefano Pastor. I would imagine this disc to be mostly improvised. This disc begins with hushed flute, somber soprano sax and eerie plucked strings from inside the piano. The sound is calm, yet haunting, I keep thinking that ghosts will soon enter. There is something beautiful going on here, very organic and rather pure at times. Most of this doesn’t really sound improvised since each section sounds like another scene from an ongoing series of stories. Mr. Mimmo has a superb, warm, thoughtful tone on soprano sax. Never bending his notes too far to prove how far out he can go. The music has a dreamy, enchanting quality which I find most uplifting. I reviewed another Fujii trio disc earlier today called, ‘This Is It!’ and Ms. Fujii sounds completely different. She also never goes too far out but is still most often dazzling. This disc is magical/musical improv at its best!