Keiko Matsui

The Piano

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Since she emerged in the late '80s, many of the acclaimed Japanese composer/keyboardist's most popular contemporary jazz hits featured either a very prominent sax melody or a great deal of exotic percussion and Eastern-flavored instrumentation. Since signing with Narada Jazz in 2000, Matsui's work has drawn more from her classical piano background, featuring intricate percussion but none of the pop-soul sax textures that defined her early work. This beautiful recording, licensed by Shout! Factory from a previous Japanese release, should fascinate longtime fans who wondered what her most compelling work would sound like as new age solo piano works. A few tracks, most notably "Whisper From the Mirror" and "Between the Moons," feature some electronic percussion accompaniment, but in general, the tracks are all about her lovely melodies, dramatic chordings, wistful melodies, and the intimacy of the ivories. As on all Matsui projects, there's a perfect balance of elegant romance ("Beyond the Light," "Forever, Forever") and jazzy drama. It's a whole new way to experience an artist whose melodies sound timeless regardless of their presentation. The Piano is one of six hard-to-find Matsui recordings being repackaged and re-released (with the original Japanese bonus tracks) on Shout! Factory.

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