Shanachie Novita' : Keiko Matsui

Keiko Matsui

A quattro anni di distanza da “Moyo” ritorna questa popolare pianista giapponese con un nuovo disco per la Shanachie. “The Road” può essere considerato sicuramente un importante disco per capire sino a che punto la carriera di questa giovane e talentuosa pianista possa arrivare. Sicuramente Keiko deve essere considerata una pianista jazz ma in lei sono facilmente riscontrabili forme armoniche provenienti dalla scuola "classica" occidentale che si fondono con sonorita' piu' propriamente world e new age sino a creare quel sound unico e non definibile che noi chiamiamo “smooth jazz” d'autore.

- Keiko Matsui – The Road.....

After an atypical four-year hiatus, piano/keyboard virtuoso Keiko Matsui graces us with another gem, to be released Jan. 25, 2011. The quiet and beautiful wonder of Japan presents her 22nd U.S. release with The Road…, a kind of embrace of all she has been since the early years until now. There’s a bit of the period that serenaded us through Under Northern Lights and Cherry Blossom to Dream Walk and, most recently, Moyo with its nod to the exoticism of African rhythms and culture.

Having followed Matsui from the very beginning, with her debut release, A Drop of Water, and her incredible musical journey with the ever-memorable vocalist Carl Anderson, I can say that her growth has been such a breathtaking experience to behold. Witnessing a seed that was actually already budding when it was first planted, one didn’t have to be a clairvoyant to see where this young talent was headed and how promising a career she had. It has all come to full bloom and continues to produce bountiful dividends. As Danny Weiss of Shanachie Entertanment, which just signed Matsui, so accurately states: “Keiko Matsui is beyond category. She is a great jazz player, of course, but her music has such strong classical, world, and new age influences that the result is truly unique.” Unique has been Matsui’s signature since the beginning. There is no other with her sound, her touch, her feel for the elements and pictures that she so eloquently paints. That has always been her claim to fame and, I’m sure, will always be such.

Now, on to The Road… The album even reaches back to the early years and calls upon one of the first drummers with whom she ever recorded, Vinnie Colaiuta, on several tracks, then adds newness by featuring for the first time renowned saxman Kirk Whalum on the tracks “Awakening” and “Affirmation.” Saxman Jackiem Joyner is also still a vibrant and firm presence as he offers his telling sax on the final and title track.

The African thread is well sewn into this fabric with the collaboration with Cameroonian bassist, guitarist, and vocalist Richard Bona, who co-wrote the songs “Nguea Wonja” and “Touching Peace,” both very impressive indeed.

There’s even a touch of the blues on track 5, “Embrace,” in a way that you can only imagine the beauty that this charmer can evoke with the blues in her own sweet way. The blues never sounded cozier.

No Keiko Matsui album is complete without her “quiet” acoustic piano moments (and there are a few) where she demonstrates her mastery of the solemn, solidly sweet melodies that obviously tell a thousand stories of the places she’s been literally and in her heart. She can easily take you there as well, as she does with the previously mentioned co-written track “Touching Peace.”

All in all, this is once more Keiko Matsui in all her glory. The Road…, as is always the case with her road, is laced with melodies and imagination that make for quite the splendid journey. It is always a pleasure to be on that journey. – Ronald Jackson