Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

408

Keiko Matsui: Moyo (Heart and Soul)

Jeff Winbush By

Sign in to view read count
There isn't a great divide between the life of a musician and the ordinary 9-to-5 Joe. Musicians have to perform on their job or they get passed over. They have dandruff, bills to pay and crabgrass they can't get out of their front lawn.

The difference is when a musician undergoes a personal drama there's the outlet of retreating to the nearest studio or soundstage to express his/her joys and sorrows. When pianist Keiko Matsui faced the parting of ways with husband Kazu Matsui, who'd produced all her previous albums, she decided to self-produce—a bold move from an artist with a signature sound carefully crafted over 20 years.

Moyo (Swahili for "heart and soul") was recorded with local musicians in South Africa, marking the return of "live" bass and drums for the first time since Sapphire (Shout! Factory, 1995). For her first self-produced effort, Matsui sought out familiar musicians from previous albums, including drummer Akira Jimbo, saxophonist Paul Taylor, bassist/vocalist Richard Bona and the still-kicking-butt-after-all-these-years trumpet of South African native son, 68-year-old Hugh Masakela.

The presence of Masakela, Taylor and saxophonist Gerald Albright is significant. Matsui's recordings for the last decade have been somewhat insular affairs, the only constant being a core trio of her piano, Derek Nakamoto's synthesizers and arrangements, and Kazu Matsui's production and occasional contribution on shakuhachi. Taylor and Albright's saxophones open up the sound here. The subtitle of the album could be Keiko Matsui Plays Well With Others.

All the familiar elements of Matsui's music are here. There's new age, world beat, light classical and contemporary jazz all presented in the East-meets-West fashion that has been a constant since she entered the scene with A Drop of Water. (Shout! Factory, 1987) "After the Rain" is a funky fusion of American smooth jazz as Taylor's soprano saxophone dukes it out with South African soul and Lucas Senyatso's looping bass lines. Taylor, who played with Matsui in the 1990s, and went on to a successful solo career, sounds strong, as if reuniting with his old band mate reinvigorated him as he takes the lead on the radio-friendly "Black River."

"Caricas" is a showpiece for Matsui's playful piano, but gives drummer Rob Watson, Senyatso's rock-solid bass and percussionist Tiale Makhene plenty of space. But it's only an appetizer, with the following "An Evening in Gibraltar" a blue plate special with Masakela's sizzling trumpet trading lines with Matsui's piano during the bridge.

"Um Novo Dia" (A New Day) deserves points for possibly being the most bizarre song on a Matsui album, but features an overly melodramatic vocal by Waldemar Bastos. It's an interesting attempt at Latin music, but comes up short.

Matsui has enjoyed much commercial success and is a staple of smooth jazz programming though she's always followed her own direction rather than comforming to the rules of the genre. Moyo is a fascinating next step in Matsui's growth and advancement as a musician of depth, range, grace and talent.

Track Listing: Moyo (Heart and Soul); A Great Romance; Into the Night; Caricias; An Evening in Gibraltar; When I Close My Eyes; After the Rain; Allure; Black River; Old Potch Road; Um Novo Dia (A New Day); Marula.

Personnel: Keiko Matsui: piano; Richard Bona: bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, percussion, programming, vocals (1, 11); Akira Jimbo: drums; Tiale Makhene: percussion; Derek Nakamoto: synthesizer, programming; Grecco Buratto: acoustic guitar; Rob Wilson: drums; Lucas Senyatso: bass; Lawrence Matshiza: electric guitar; Kunle: electric guitar (6); Gerald Albright: tenor and soprano saxophone (3, 8); Adam Howard : trumpet; Bez Roberts: trombone; Vivian Thulane: alto saxophone; Paul Taylor: soprano saxophone (7, 9); Hugh Masakela: trumpet (5, 10) Waldemar Bastos: vocals, Portuguese lyrics (11); Gary Stockdale: string arrangements (12).

Title: Moyo (Heart and Soul) | Year Released: 2007

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Celebrating William Parker at 65" CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating William Parker at 65
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Scratches Of Spain" CD/LP/Track Review Scratches Of Spain
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Grace" CD/LP/Track Review Grace
by James Nadal
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "Live at the High Noon" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Flesh & Bone" CD/LP/Track Review Flesh & Bone
by Troy Collins
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 6, 2017