Kaze Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Whether she’s playing keyboards or leading a jazz orchestra, Satoko Fujii revels in the dynamic range of the sounds at her disposal. On Fukushima (Libra 2017), she elicits sounds of forlorn birdsong and mass destruction from a group of New York musicians, and with her band Gato Libre, the most recent to visit Chicago, her accordion playing covers a similarly broad spectrum. Fujii obtains even greater range from the piano, the instrument she uses the most. On the keys, she weaves between bold clusters and pensive melodies, and under the piano’s lid, she plays directly on the strings, pulling strands of wire through them to obtain glassy sonorities, plucking them like a harpist, or placing objects on them that make the tinkling of ivories sound like the rattling of dice in a box. Fujii records liberally; to celebrate her 60th birthday in 2018, she released one album per month, collaborating with a different project each time. Among the records was Atody Man (Circum Libra), the fifth recording by Kaze, a Franco-Japanese quartet that also includes drummer Peter Orin and trumpeters Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost. Since all members of the group compose and everyone draws upon both conventional and extended techniques, each of the album’s six tracks exploits the dual-horn lineup in a different way. While Orin’s multi-segmented “Hynotique Sympathie” ascends slowly from a haze of long brass tones to a sequence of mercurial shifts between stormy improvisation and chastened lyricism, Tamura’s “Inspiration 2” stacks up masses of sound, then disperses them into explorations of microscopically detailed exchanges between subsets of the group’s members.   v