By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
Japanese jazz pianist and composer Keiko Matsui has traveled all over the world with her music, and recorded her latest CD/DVD set at the Ex Theater in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. But she told me that Seattle is actually her favorite place to play.
“Seattle is my favorite city,” she continues. “Always, I spend more time after or before the show in Seattle. Because of the food, the flowers, everything is wonderful for me. I’ve been performing for many years at Jazz Alley, every few years, so I have many loyal fans, some of whom come from other places.”
Asked about her favorite restaurant in Seattle, she chuckles, “I go to the Pike Place Market a lot. I love seafood.”
A Tokyo native, Matsui began piano lessons at age 5, studying classical, but soon moved on to pop and jazz influences such as Chick Corea and Stevie Wonder. After a stretch in the Japanese fusion group Cosmos, she went solo.
She has 24 albums in the United States, she relates. She put together the set list for “Live In Tokyo” from her back catalog, showcasing some tunes from 2013’s “Soul Quest.” She was born with perfect pitch, and she allows that it can be annoying, hearing the musical notes in every sound around her.
Still, “Natural sound makes me think about the notes. That happens a lot. Weird pitches can get me really thinking weird. But it is great to hear or think that way. I can compose without writing out on the music sheets.”
Her band lineup for this time around includes drummer Dave Karasony, bassist Rico Belled, guitarist J.P. Murao, and saxophonist Tommy Proulx. Asked what directions her music has taken in recent years, she muses: I have been touring more than before. My experiences and my thoughts reflect each album. Each album has a different story, a different intonation. But still, for me, melody is very important. I try to compose strong melody. I feel that [with] music we feel a connection, and can reach across borders. Those feelings. I hope that this album can reach many people.” (end)
Keiko Matsui plays Thursday, November 12th through Sunday, November 15th, at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, 2033 6th Avenue in Seattle. For ticket prices, show times, and more information, visit https://www.jazzalley.com.
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.