Satoko Fujii/Joe Fonda Duo, featuring Satoko Fujii, piano, Joe Fonda, bass, Northampton Center for the Arts, 33 Hawley St., Northampton, MA. Single tickets ($15) are available at www.jazzshares.org and at the door.
No one could have predicted that when pianist Satoko Fujii and bassist Joe Fonda first performed together in 2015, the duo would develop into the major collaboration it has become. And yet, four years down the road, they have toured extensively and released four CDs, all of which has received rapturous critical praise. Their most recent album is Four (Long Song Records, 2019.) The inspiration that Fujii and Fonda draw from each other and the creative freedom they feel when they work together has kept their duo growing and deepening.
“The conversation is intuitive, at times seemingly telepathic — and it creates an enormous amount of drama and joy,” writes Steve Feeney.
Joe Fonda “is a serious seeker of new musical horizons,” according to the Boston Phoenix. From 1984 to 1999, he was the bassist with composer-improviser and NEA Jazz Master Anthony Braxton. Fonda also has been an integral member of several cooperative bands, including the Fonda-Stevens Group with Michael Jefry Stevens, Herb Robertson, and Harvey Sorgen; Conference Call, with Gebhard Ullmann, Stevens, and George Schuller; the Fab Trio with Barry Altschul and Billy Bang; and the Nu Band with Mark Whitecage, Roy Campbell, and Lou Grassi. He is currently a member of The 3dom Factor, Alschul’s trio with saxophonist Jon Irabagon, and guitarist Michael Musillami’s trio, among others. He has led some truly unique ensembles of his own including From the Source, which features four instrumentalists, a tap dancer, and a body healer/vocalist; and Bottoms Out, a sextet with Gerry Hemingway, Joe Daley, Michael Rabinowitz, Claire Daly, and Gebhard Ullmann. He has released twelve recordings under his own name.
Critics and fans alike hail pianist and composer Satoko Fujii as one of the most original voices in jazz today. She’s “a virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a bandleader who gets the best collaborators to deliver,” says John Fordham in The Guardian. In concert and on more than 80 albums as a leader or co-leader, she synthesizes jazz, contemporary classical, avant-rock, and folk musics into an innovative style instantly recognizable as hers alone. A prolific band leader and recording artist, she celebrated her 60th birthday in 2018 by releasing one album a month from bands old and new, from solo to large ensemble. Franz A. Matzner in All About Jazz likened the twelve albums to “an ecosystem of independently thriving organisms linked by the shared soil of Fujii’s artistic heritage and shaped by the forces of her creativity.”