A world citizen, Keiko Matsui’s music speaks to the hearts and souls of fans around the world, transcending borders and building bridges among people who share a common appreciation of honest artistry and cultural exchange. “Music creates a oneness,” says the striking, petite powerhouse who has worked alongside everyone from Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder to Hugh Masekela and Bob James. A consummate artist, Keiko views each show and recording as a unique opportunity. “Journey To The Heart is my gift to my fans. I want to deliver the most beautiful and emotional experience.” Keiko, who has lent her voice to raise awareness for such causes as The Daniel Pearl and the Susan G. Korman Foundations says, “I feel the world is getting crazier and we need to collectively go back and recall what connects us all…our spirits, hearts and our souls.” On Journey To the Heart, Matsui more than delivers what she has come to be loved for breathtakingly beautiful transcendent melodies that transport the listener. A master storyteller, Keiko Matsui crafts passionate and emotive songs with lush harmonies and global rhythms to create timeless musical anthems. “Every song is like its own drama,” confides Keiko. “The word ‘heart’ in the title has a double meaning. I want the music to find its way into your heart but I also mean heart, as is the creator and center of the universe. I hope the listeners will allow themselves to go anywhere with my music.”
Upon the completion of Keiko Matsui’s 2016 winter tour, the pianist, who divides her time between the West Coast and Japan, set her sights and energies on her next recording project. “I finally had a chance to slow down, so I went to Catalina Island to be free. I love the ocean. Just to be able to hear the waves and watch the sunset is healing to me. Catalina Island is where most of the melodies on Journey To The Heart were born.” The project evolved over a four month period starting in Catalina and then the taking the pianist on an Eastern European tour and eventually back to California to record at Unity Studio in Hollywood. “After I completed the last album Live in Tokyo, I felt that a new chapter in my life had started. I really wanted to work in a more organic way,” explains Keiko. Journey To The Heart Keiko Matsui’s 27th recording as a leader, marks the 30th Anniversary since her recording debut and is her boldest statement yet. Helping Keiko to reinvigorate her sound and new acoustic direction are Cuban musicians: bassist Carlos Del Puerto and drummer Jimmy Branly. Del Puerto, one of the founding members of Irakere, has collaborated with everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Quincy Jones to Stevie Wonder. Conservatory trained Branly has worked with such notables as Flora Purim, Celia Cruz, Sheila E., Natalie Cole and Airto Moreia. “Carlitos and Jimmy are amazing musicians. I admire their artistry, musicianship and spirituality. They are my new family on the road and they bring such a sensitivity and passion to every situation,” shares Keiko. Peruvian guitarist Ramon Stagnero and Venezuelan percussionist Luis Quintero also join Keiko along with special guest harmonica player Gregoire Maret and a sublime string section that augments several of the album’s tracks. Stagnero has worked with such diverse artists as Al Jarreau, Andrea Bocelli, Dianne Reeves and Herb Alpert, while Quintero has been first call for such musicians as Louie Vega, Natalie Cole, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and George Benson. Maret hails from Switzerland and has worked and toured with Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny among others.
True to Keiko’s personality, her music is eloquent, earthy and multi-dimensional. Her unique melting pots of musical influences are at the forefront as is her unique ability to craft mystical and otherworldly melodies that permeate your very essence. “Melodies are an important part of my music and the melodies on Journey To The Heartseemed to come from another dimension,” shares Keiko. “There is a different energy. I was even amazed myself at just how bright and happy the music is. It does reflect where I am right now.”