Recorded live at Pit Inn in Tokyo on June 21, 2005, this album proves without a doubt that Orchestra Tokyo
(previously known as Orchestra East
) remains Satoko Fujii
's all-around best orchestral project. The musicianship here easily tops her two other Japanese orchestras and the level of urgency in the playing is stronger than what can be heard from her New York orchestra (although some fans clearly prefer the arguably subtler approach of the latter to the more in-your-face attitude of the Tokyo cohort). Simply put, Live!
is pure candy, a treat in every aspect. This album offers a riveting 70-minute set, both as an audio CD and a video DVD. The set list covers mostly new material, of which "Fue Taiko" and "Scramble" stand out as particularly wild. Also included are strong renditions of "Water" (also found on Orchestra NY
), "A Brick House" (first recorded by the Satoko Fujii Quartet
) and "Bennie's Waltz" (also appearing on Orchestra Nagoya
). Highlights abound and range from the brilliant group cluster playing in "An Unpaved Road" to the relentless drive of "Scramble," and from Sachi Hayasaka
's frantic opening solo in the latter to Kunihiro Izumi's solos in "Fue Taiko" -- first a fierce alto sax outing, then a very funny double flute solo which you have to see on the DVD to believe. Live!
features the same solo organization as Undulation
: each of the seven tracks features two lead players or soloists, so that at the end of the album all 14 members of the orchestra had their moment in the spotlight. Those hoping for some of Fujii
's wonderful piano playing may be disappointed; except for a few chords in "Scramble" and "Bennie's Waltz," she sticks to her conducting duties. On the other hand, fans of her highly personal, lyrical yet high-energy composition style will be in seventh heaven with this very strong release, arguably the best among the four orchestra CDs simultaneously released in September 2006. Sound quality is excellent and the DVD was filmed and edited professionally. Highly recommended and a 2006 must-have.