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Internationally acclaimed contemporary jazz pianist Keiko Matsui is, in the words of Duke Ellington, “beyond category.” She has released twenty-seven albums and performed all over the world in her thirty-year performing career, and her unique melting pot of musical influences has garnered her a devout international following.
The eloquent and soft-spoken but yet deliberate musician tours relentlessly and seeks to make a genuine connection with her audience. “Everybody has so many things going on in their lives but my concerts are special for me. The music creates a oneness. The exchange I share with my audience is the root of my energy. It’s like my mission.”
Growing up in Tokyo, Keiko took her first piano lesson at the age of five. Influenced by both Stevie Wonder and Rachmaninov as well as early fusion masters Maurice Jarre and Chick Corea, she developed a personal style that blends jazz, new age, global, and classical elements. Her fame and critical recognition grew, and she has now worked alongside some other great artists, including Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Hugh Masekela, and Bob James.
A true humanitarian, Keiko has lent her voice to raise awareness for such causes as The Daniel Pearl Foundation, The United Nations World Food Program, Be The Match Marrow Registry, and The National Donor Program and Marrow Foundation. She has also lent her efforts to the continued revitalization and healing of Japan in the wake of the Japanese Tsunami and Fukushima disasters. “I still have these images of kindergarten teachers holding their kids in order to protect them. I also think about all of the older people who did not make it and the children who lost parents,” reflects Keiko, the first Japanese musician to top the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. “But when I think about the people who did survive, I think that they may be the strongest souls there are. Out of this pain, I have found the greatest strength from these individuals.”
Keiko explores themes of love, loss, spirituality, and environmental consciousness in her recordings, and her newest project continues her exploration of a more acoustic sound. She conceived over 100 different melodies and motifs for Journey To The Heart and eventually settled on the ten themes featured on the album. It has a global approach, from the North African moods, Cuban influenced melodies, and a haunting country tinged piano and guitar piece. And as always, Keiko’s philosophy and commitment to humanity shines through.
We need to find that common bond in our hearts. People are dying with violence, hunger and war. This music is my new journey,” concludes Keiko Matsui. “It is an evolution in many ways. I hope I can make a path and make some noise and leave a positive effect on the world. This is my mission and I am dedicating my music to this cause.