There are pianists and then there are PIANISTS. Berlin resident and Japan native Sakoto Fujii falls into the latter category: She’s internationally acclaimed for her melding of free-jazz, modern, classical, avant-rock and Japanese folk music. On her website the discography tab revealed a staggering number of recordings dating back to 1991.
Already feeling in over my head, I went to Spotify and listened to the first thing I landed on, the 2010 album “Desert Ship.” The track “February-Locomotive-February,” clocking in at nine minutes, instantly revealed what all the fuss is about. Along with Natsuki Tamura’s blazing trumpet, Norikatsu Koreyasu on bass and Akira Horikoshi on drums, the song is a tempest of sound and Fujii’s piano is at the eye of the storm.
This song was just the tip of the proverbial musical iceberg, and a full exploration of Fujii’s work would require a serious commitment, but one that I strongly suspect would be worth the time. But whether you’re a jazz novice like me or a well-versed aficionado, the fact that Fujii is performing in Portland is a huge deal. But she’s not the only reason to consider taking in this show.
Fujii’s appearance in Portland will be a duo performance with American jazz bassist Joe Fonda. He’s also a composer, recording artist, interdisciplinary performer, producer and educator. Fonda has played with his own ensembles in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.
He’s also collaborated with a list of artists longer than my arm. He records and tours with the Fonda-Stevens Group, Conference Call, The Fab Trio, The Nu Band, Bottoms Out, From the Source and The Off Road Quartet. I have no idea when he sleeps because he’s been up to his ears in music for most of his life. A quick YouTube search had me shaking my head in the affirmative as I watched – and listened to – Fonda and his stand-up bass.
What a divine collision of sound this will be as both Fujii and Fonda are masters of their respective instruments and both are cut from innovative, imaginative cloth.
Satoko Fujii with Joe Fonda. 8 p.m. Sunday. Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland, $10 in advance and for seniors, $15 at the door, $5 students. 207-828-1310
BOWLING IS OPTIONAL as you rock out to the sounds of Bar Harbor-based band Coke Weed at Bayside Bowl. Their latest record is called “Mary Weaver” and the vocals of singer Nina D. are downright intoxicating.
Coke Weed’s got an art-rock thing going on that has a ’70s, psychedelic feel to it. complete with crunchy, fuzzy guitar. The song “Dead Man Walking” is reason enough to go see this band and reason enough to inspire a deeper dive into their music. “I know what you’re thinking/there’s only one reason/I’m walking in circles/through shadows of reason.”
“Mary Weaver” is Coke Weed’s fourth record. Clearly I need to play catch-up. Who’s with me? Also on the bill is Mail the Horse out of Brooklyn, New York, who hilariously describe their sound on their Facebook page as “rock/grunge/gospel/countrybooze.” And from Peterborough, New Hampshire, you’ll hear from Footings. They’re worth a moment of your time at their bandcamp page.
Coke Weed with Mail the Horse and Footings. 9 p.m. Saturday. Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland. No cover, all ages. baysidebowl.com