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Keiko Matsui @ Sony Hall

2019-08-10
Showtime: 8PM
Doors Open at 6PM




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Keiko Matsui @ Sony Hall

Acclaimed pianist, composer and humanitarian Keiko Matsui's transcendent and haunting melodies have long sought to build bridges. Her sonic cultural exchange has reached the hearts and minds of fans throughout the world and has allowed the pianist to work alongside icons Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Hugh Masekela and Bob James. “I would like my music to be a conduit for peace, kindness, love and light,” shares the petite, soft-spoken, yet commanding pianist. She adds, “My recording Echo is my attempt to capture all of these elements into the vibration of sound.” On February 22, 2019 Keiko Matsui will release her 28th recording as leader, Echo, which she co-produced with Grammy nominated producer Bud Harner. A master storyteller, Matsui crafts exquisite compositions replete with lush harmonies and global rhythms to create timeless musical anthems. Like iconic musicians Miles Davis and Shirley Horn, Keiko is also a master at utilizing space in her music to create a backdrop of drama, tension and sheer beauty. Keiko’s most inspired work yet, Echo features numerous special guests including bassist Marcus Miller, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, guitarist Robben Ford and bassist (and son of Clint Eastwood) Kyle Eastwood. The all-star line up also showcases premiere recording musicians drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist, Jimmy Johnson and guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. and percussionist Luis Conte, as well as Keiko’s top notch touring band, Jimmy Branly, JP Mourăo and Rico Belled. ...

“While composing the songs on Echo, I had a feeling of gratitude and a sense that there were infinite possibilities,” reflects Keiko Matsui. “This music is close to my heart because it is a celebration of the joy of the imagination, the strength of courage and the endurance of faith. It is about romance and a reminder to honor all living things.” There is a grace and spirituality about Keiko that permeates her music and very essence. Listening to Echo, you feel as if you are transported on a journey as the music unfolds like ten sweeping movements in a rapturous suite. The prolific Matsui composed 100 motifs for the recording that eventually were narrowed down to the songs featured on the CD.

Echo ceremoniously opens with a trippy drum and bass that catapults into Matsui’s reggae-tinged “Unshakeable.” Backed by nonet, with a blazing horn section, Keiko’s punctuated dancing lines add fuel to this exhilarating number. The intriguing “Moon Over Gotham” shines light on Keiko’s unrivaled ability to create delightfully memorable melodies. This swinger features a flugelhorn solo from Wayne Burgeron. Bass extraordinaire Marcus Miller shares the spotlight with Keiko on the CD’s title track. Miller was featured on Keiko’s 2013 recording Soul Quest on her anthem for global warming “Antarctica.” Keiko admits to being a long time Marcus Miller fan.

“I love his playing and his performance on “Echo” is a reflection of his personality and divine musicality,” shares the pianist. The song also features a gorgeous solo from guitarist Ramon Stagnaro. Joined by a ten-piece ensemble Keiko Matsui’s effortlessly orchestrates the triumphant and climatic “Esprit,” which showcases tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum. The duo previously recorded together on Keiko’s 2011 CD The Road… “I feel Kirk and I share the same mission, which is to dedicate our music to the unification of all people on this earth. We have been good friends for a long time and I respect both his spiritual and musical approach.” Keiko’s “Marlin Club Blues” has a flare reminiscent to Joe Zawinul’s classic “Birdland” and in addition to Keiko’s own keys features Randy Waldman Jr. on Hammond B-3. The tune is the first blues Keiko has penned and also showcases guitarist Robben Ford, who conjures up a rollicking solo for the occasion. Keiko shares, “I love Robben’s sound and solo on ‘Marlin Club Blues.’ He has a way of playing that beautifully balances silence and soulfulness.”

Echo also features Keiko Matsui’s tender “Invisible Rain,” which ebbs and flows with sweeping melodic lines that swell with emotion. The pianist invites vocalist Gretchen Parlato to join her on the album’s first single “Spirit Dance.” “After the melody came to me with a Brazilian flavor, I immediately thought of Gretchen, who I had met on a cruise a few years ago,” says Keiko. “I was familiar with her use of voice as percussion, and the chorus section of this song seemed really made for her. It was a fun reunion and she couldn't have been nicer to work with. “Now Is the Moment” is a tantalizing number that showcases Keiko’s unrivaled ability to create moody and captivating soundscapes while the joyous, percussive and Latin inspired “Viva Life” displays Keiko and the band having some fun as they show off their rhythmic elasticity and tight-knit interplay. Echo comes to a fitting finale with “Return To Eternity,” which highlights Keiko’s agile and always tasteful touch and features bassist Kyle Eastwood. “I had been aware of Kyle’s work as an acoustic bassist and his beautiful soundtrack work with his father Clint Eastwood. When the melody for ‘Return To Eternity’ came to me, I immediately imagined him playing the acoustic bass on the song.”

Keiko Matsui took her first piano lesson at five and she made her US recording debut in 1987 with the recording A Drop of Water. Under Northern Lights followed in 1989 and her subsequent albums of note include No Borders (1990), Night Waltz (1991), Cherry Blossom (1992), Doll (1994), Sapphire (1995) and Dream Walk (1996), which remained on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart for over 15 months and further cemented her reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

 

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