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«Any News»

Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and Australian pianist Alister Spence first crossed paths in 2007 when Fujii and her partner, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, toured Australia. Fujii and Tamura asked Spence and his trio to join them as guests on their Sydney gig. A year later, the Alister Spence Trio and the Satoko Fujii Ma-Do quartet shared a double bill at the Tokyo International Jazz Festival. Fujii set up later the first Fujii / Spence duo piano concerts, and they have revisited the duo format on several occasions including a second Japanese tour in 2016 and another one in 2017 during which their first duo album intelsat (Alister Spence Music, 2018) was recorded. In 2017, Fujii and Spence formed a new project, Kira Kira, with Tamura, that released its debut album «Bright Force» (Libra, 2018) with Japanese drummer Ittetsu Takemura. Spence also performed with the Satoko Fujii Orchestras (Nagoya, Kobe, Tokyo) and teamed up with the Satoko Fujii Orchestra Kobe to record the album, «Imagine Meeting You Here» (Libra, 2019).

«Any News» is different from Fujii and Spence’s previous collaborations. This album of piano duets was recorded over the internet between Fujji’s home in Kobe, Japan and Spence’s home in Sydney, Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic. Fujii and Spence began to work on this project early in 2020 and developed ideas for the co-written piano duet pieces, meeting occasionally on the net to rehearse and explore. «Any News» is the result of three recording sessions from September 2021. Fujii and Spence managed to create their own musical universe. It is impossible to say who is playing what on this album (or to believe that they were not in the same recording studio or stage) as both Fujii and Spence sound like an organic musical entity that relies on their shared experiences and eager to explore distinct dynamics of the piano duet formats. The atmosphere of this album is mostly introspective and contemplative, and Fujii and Spence patiently sketch winding melodic threads and reserved and nuanced dramas, investigating the timbres of the pianos, and deepening their thoughtful conversational interplay.

«Curve is the second album of Spence with Stockholm-based Canadian double bass player Joe Williamson and Swedish drummer Christopher Cantillo, following «Begin» (Alister Spence Music, 2015, that was recorded after «Curve»). This trio first met in 2009 when Spence was invited to play at the Vilnius Jazz Festival and since then, they have performed in 2011, 2013, and 2015, in Sweden, Norway, and the UK, as a trio, and with Scottish sax master Raymond MacDonald and Australian sax player Daniel Rourke. «Curve» was recorded at Ton & Tråd in Örnsberg, Sweden in February 2011 during the trio’s first tour.

It is clear that this trio is just beginning to explore its sonic possibilities and focuses on deconstructing and reconstructing the classic piano trio format in its own special way, ready to investigate thoroughly all aspects of such format as well as the timbral qualities of its respective instruments with extended techniques. Spence, Williamson and Cantillo are determined to challenge each other, insisting on open, often free form and intense dynamics, and free pulse. This uncompromising and restless trio offers enigmatic and fragile soundscapes, often obsessed with pure and abstract sounds, and unpredictable ways of tension building and release.

Eyal Hareuveni

Satoko Fujii (p), Alister Spence (p, prep p), Joe Williamson (b), Christopher Cantillo (dr, perc)

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