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På skive



San – 三 three in Japanese – is the trio of Japanese pianist-composer Satoko Fujii, Japanese, Berlin-based vibes and marimba player-composer Taiko Saito, who collaborates with Fujii in the Futari (two people in Japanese) duo and initiated the San trio, and Japanese, Strasbourg-based drummer-composer Yuko Oshima, who has worked before in a duo with Saito. Hibiki (響, echo or resonance in Japanese, also a name of a famous Japanese blended whiskey) is the debut album of this trio, recorded near the end of a four cities European tour in 2022, and finds the San trio immersed deeply in its own musical world, full of delicate beauty, thunderous energy, and sudden surprises.

San is a collective trio. Fujii, Saito and Oshima wrote music separately, sent their compositional ideas to each other, and discussed the music thoroughly but did not have time to rehearse the music before the first performance of the trio. Fujii concluded that «making sounds means much more than talking about them».

The six pieces stress the organic and multifaceted dynamics of the San trio. Oshima’s title piece opens Hibiki and shapes sound, color, and melody in a collective, subtle and labyrinthine manner while expanding the sonic palette of the trio with an array of personal extended techniques, and gravitating slowly and gently towards a final burst of energy. Saito’s brief «Wa» revolves around a vibes trill that slowly grows in intensity, ornamented imaginatively by Fujii’s dramatic piano playing and Oshima’s punctuating phrases. Saito’s «Ichigo» concludes Hibiki with a rapid, explosive mode that enjoys the improvisational skills of the San trio, as strong-minded soloists and as a tight collective.

Fujii’s «Soba» juggles with a storm of contrasting and resonant sounds and pulses of the piano, vibes and drums. Fujii’s «Yozakura» adds a mysterious, lyrical yet dramatic aroma to the resonant, blending sounds of Saito’s shimmering vibes and Fujii’s rippling piano, colored gently by Oshima’s percussion. Fujii’s last piece for the trio, «What You See», relies on Oshima’s powerful and precise drumming that propels Fujii’s unusual and enigmatic piano timbres and the atmospheric vibes of Saito.

A great trio was born on this tour.

Eyal Hareuvveni

Satoko Fujii (piano), Taiko Saito (vibraphone, marimba), Yuko Oshima (drums)