Keiko Matsui


by Jon Ross

25 April 2007


The first track from Keiko Matsui’s latest smooth jazz release starts with an accelerando hand drum rhythm. Next comes a funky piano vamp, echoed by an electric bass. Enter vocalizations. Cut to sweeping saccharine piano, then back to the vamp. Here’s a bridge of some sort: a piano mini-melody echoed by more voices. Disparate musics? Voices? What is going on? In a word, everything. Within the first two minutes of “Moyo”, African percussion blends with funk blends with jazz. Matsui’s classical athleticism—which can be heard in how she executes her trills and adds a shimmering quality to her lines—is at the center of this amalgam of sound, an aesthetic that, as the CD gets deeper into the tracks, becomes increasingly directed by synthesizers and other electronics.

To take this as a disadvantage—the schizophrenia of the music, the tendency to pack too much into a three-minute space—would be wrong. Matsui shrouds herself in layers of instrumentation, content to emote from her insulated space in the center of it all, and that’s exactly what her music is supposed to accomplish. To the pianist, it’s not about improvisation; it’s not even about chords or notes. Matsui’s music is about making a product that sounds good, and, taking into account the heavy production on a release like this, Moyo sounds great. But this is all the music accomplishes. There is no higher meaning to the placement of one feeling against another. This is not instrumental music intended for deep introspection. Matsui’s aim is more superficial; this is music for a passing glance—or elevator ride—but nothing more.

cover art

Keiko Matsui


(Shout! Factory)
US: 24 Apr 2007
UK: Available as import



Topics: keiko matsui
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media

Call for Music Writers... Hip-Hop, Soul, Electronic, Rock, Indie, Americana, Jazz, World and More

// Announcements

"PopMatters is looking for smart music writers. We're looking for talented writers with deep genre knowledge of music and its present and…

READ the article