The Arts Fuse on Duet

THE ARTS FUSE parla di Duet

Duet (Long Song Records) is from a 2015 live date recorded in a small chapel in Portland, Maine. Fujii engages with the highly inventive bassist Joe Fonda for a long piece called “Paul Bley.” A moving homage to the late, great pianist/composer, the players generate intense synergies that touch on the inner and outer reaches of ‘free jazz.’ The conversation is intuitive, at times seemingly telepathic — and it creates an enormous amount of drama and joy. In the piece, Fujii spends a lot of time working inside the piano, dampening strings, carefully drawing sounds out of the instrument’s metal and wood. These eerie scrapes and shimmering drones, added to Fonda’s arco moans and whispers, conjure up a mysterious soundscape, a soundtrack for a tour of a netherworld.

Fonda, a veteran of many risk-taking collaborations, including a long stint with Anthony Braxton, is a musician who not only overflows with ideas, but possesses the technique to make them concrete, musically. What’s more, he brings a rich, resonant tone to his work with Fujii; the result is that the pair pays loving tribute to Bley while both musicians stretch their distinctive musical imaginations.

A short trio piece is included, featuring Natsuki Tamura’s breathy trumpet work. But this tune is most notable for Fujii’s sonic image of a slow eruption; her fingers release notes like bubbling lava from a deep source within her instrument. Fonda adds a bit of flute to further broaden the recording’s palette.

Steve Feeney

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