Keiko Matsui

Full Moon & the Shrine

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Keiko Matsui is the Stevie Nicks of contemporary jazz. In her photos, she always appears pale, out of a mist, like a fairy goddess or angel. Her creative and long popular blend of classical piano, aggressive jazz/funk, orchestral grandeur, and sonic elements from her native Japan allows her to create both poignant ballads and more aggressive fusion statements. Over the course of her last few albums, Matsui's Lindsey Buckingham -- always at her side, pushing her performance harder and higher -- has been seductive saxman Paul Taylor. On this ethereal mind trip, Full Moon and the Shrine (Countdown/Unity), she doesn't let Taylor stray too far. He's there matching her note for note, dancing skyward like Fred and Ginger under the swirling synth orchestral flavors and snappy hip-hop loops of Derek Nakamoto. On the dramatic "Bonfire of the Piano," Matsui textures Taylor's rich soul with her high register melody, which plays over a brooding low-register harmony line. Matsui always seems a bit torn between perfect R&B/pop melodies and film score auditions, but the one constant is her reliance on a wide range of machine generated and live percussion.

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