All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

2

Keiko Matsui: Journey To The Heart

Jeff Winbush By

Sign in to view read count
Out of pain comes growth and in 2007, Keiko Matsui, emerged from a divorce, record label troubles, and embraced her new singularity by striking out in a bold new direction as she traveled to South Africa, paired up with trumpeter Hugh Masakela and the results gave birth to the adventurous Moyo, one of the brightest and best recordings of a 30-year career.

Fast forward nine years and Matsui's at it again with Journey To The Heart, a spirited and joyful project that brims with equal parts euphoric passion and unbridled brilliance as Matsui seems invigorated as a player, composer, and bandleader. Paired with a drum-head tight new band, this is her finest musical moment in nearly a decade.

Don't call it world beat. Put a Japanese pianist in the studio with a Cuban bassist and drummer, (Del Puerto and Branley) add a guitarist from Peru (Stagnero) and a percussionist from Venzuela (Quintero) then just for grins invite a dazzling harmonica player from Switzerland (Maret) to join in on the festivities, and what you have is Matsui's 27th album as a leader as she stakes out a bold new direction as she moves into more acoustic music. Intact is her signature precision on the piano and her stately compositions and arrangements.

It takes supreme confidence in yourself and your fellow musicians to reign in and allow them to take the lead and compliment them instead of relegating them to little more than sidemen. Taking few solos here, Matsui has always been willing to unselfishly share the spotlight as her duet with Greigoire Maret on the riveting "Two Harbors" is ample evidence of.

"Moving On" and "Carnival" are two romper stompers featuring guitarist Ramon Stagnero who nimbly navigates his way as Matsui trades leads with him until percussionist Luis Quintero brings it home. It's exciting to follow in a way Matsui's recent outings with studio pros were not.

Too many musicians reach a stage in their careers where they seemingly say, "That's good enough. I've done a few different things. I can just keep making the same old same old with different titles and it will sell." Maybe that's true for a dinosaur rock band content to go on stage and crank out the hits, but for a jazz artist, that is a shortcut to stagnation and musical death.

When jazz musicians play it safe and are content to just make the donuts, it ceases to be jazz and becomes instrumental pop without vocals and who needs that? Keiko Matsui will never get her proper due for remaining true to the spirit of innovators and risk-takers who elevated the idiom, but Journey To The Heart serves as the testimonial she's richly deserving of the accolades.

Track Listing: Moving On; Carnival; The Edge of Twilight; Butterfly; Casablanca; Journey To The Heart; Havana Nights; New Beginning; Two Harbors; Blue Rose

Personnel: Keiko Matsui: piano; Carlitos Del Puerto: bass; Jimmy Branley: drums; Ramon Stagnero: guitars; Luis Quintero: percussion; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; JP Mourao; additional guitar (2), Randy Waldman; string arrangement (4, 6, 8); Gary Stockdale: string arrangement (10)

Title: Journey To The Heart | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Shanachie Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Stingo (Live in Tokyo)

Stingo (Live in Tokyo)

Keiko Matsui
Live In Tokyo

Black Lion

Black Lion

Keiko Matsui
Black Lion

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Journey To The Heart

Journey To The Heart

Shanachie Records
2016

buy
Live In Tokyo

Live In Tokyo

Shanachie Records
2015

buy
 

Soul Quest

Narada Jazz
2013

buy
 

Greatest Hits

Narada Jazz
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Love + Time + Divination CD/LP/Track Review
Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read Gleb Kolyadin CD/LP/Track Review
Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018
Read NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil// CD/LP/Track Review
NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 22, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Geannine Reid
Published: February 22, 2018
Read SuperClusters CD/LP/Track Review
SuperClusters
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Your Queen Is A Reptile CD/LP/Track Review
Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "Dedication" CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Everybody Loves Angels" CD/LP/Track Review Everybody Loves Angels
by Henning Bolte
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "Tangled" CD/LP/Track Review Tangled
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Tenderly featuring Gilad Hekselman" CD/LP/Track Review Tenderly featuring Gilad Hekselman
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 30, 2017
Read "Cub(an)ism" CD/LP/Track Review Cub(an)ism
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017