Con­tem­po­rary Jazz Pi­anist Keiko Mat­sui ap­pear­ing at Bankhead Theater in Au­gust

Escalon Times - - PERSPECTIVE - Mat­sui

LIVERMORE — This Au­gust, con­tem­po­rary jazz pi­anist Keiko Mat­sui makes her fifth re­turn to Livermore, where the in­ti­mate acous­tics of the Bankhead Theater are ideal for what Jazz Re­view called her “won­der­ful amal­gam of ex­otic melodies, lus­cious har­monies and global rhythms.”

An icon in smooth jazz, she is known for orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions that seam­lessly blend mu­si­cal in­flu­ences from around the world and speak a uni­ver­sal lan­guage. Tick­ets for Keiko Mat­sui’s sin­gle per­for­mance on Fri­day evening, Aug. 18, start at just $30 with $16 tick­ets for stu­dents and ac­tive mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

Mat­sui’s mu­sic has al­ways de­fied cat­e­go­riza­tion. Built on a clas­si­cal mu­sic core, her jazz and blues notes are grace­fully wo­ven through with a new age sen­si­bil­ity. She has de­scribed her com­po­si­tions as an ex­pres­sion of the con­nec­tions be­tween the cul­tures, re­li­gions, and lan­guages of the many places she has ex­pe­ri­enced on tour around the world.

Over the years Mat­sui has re­leased 27 al­bums, in­clud­ing her most re­cent, “Jour­ney to the Heart.” A more acous­tic project than her ear­lier works with a fresh and ap­peal­ing style, the al­bum reached num­ber one on the iTunes Jazz Chart the day of its re­lease and had topped Bill­board’s Con­tem­po­rary Jazz Chart less than two weeks later. Mat­sui has been twice named Best Fe­male Artist at the Na­tional Smooth Jazz Awards.

A na­tive of Ja­pan, Mat­sui be­gan pi­ano lessons at the age of five. Ini­tially she stud­ied clas­si­cal mu­sic, but by her early teens she had de­vel­oped a strong in­ter­est in jazz and be­gan to com­pose her own mu­sic. Al­though her fam­ily was not par­tic­u­larly mu­si­cal, they sup­ported her emerg­ing tal­ents and, at the young age of 17, she was se­lected as a record­ing artist for Yamaha. Mat­sui made her US record­ing de­but with “Drop of Wa­ter” in 1987. Her mu­sic dis­plays a fluid and im­pro­vi­sa­tional qual­ity, ap­peal­ing to au­di­ences across gen­res by in­cor­po­rat­ing di­verse stylis­tic el­e­ments from jazz, clas­si­cal, rock, blues, and world mu­sic. Her cre­ativ­ity and flex­i­bil­ity has made Mat­sui a wel­come col­lab­o­ra­tor with such mu­si­cal lu­mi­nar­ies as Ste­vie Won­der, Miles Davis, Bob James and more.

An ac­tivist by na­ture, Mat­sui makes it a pri­or­ity to use her mu­sic to give back. She has ac­tively cham­pi­oned a num­ber of char­i­ta­ble causes, in­clud­ing the United Na­tions World Food Pro­gramme in Africa, bone mar­row do­na­tion, and breast cancer aware­ness pro­grams.

The Bankhead Theater of­fers a range of en­ter­tain­ment across mu­si­cal gen­res, as well as dance, com­edy and other per­form­ing arts through­out the year. The evening with Keiko Mat­sui on Au­gust 18th marks the fi­nal event in this year’s Sum­mer Sea­son at the Bankhead. The 2017-2018 Sea­son opens on Satur­day evening, Septem­ber 9th with the Bril­liance at the Bankhead Gala fea­tur­ing Grammy Award­win­ning folk-pop duo Indigo Girls, ac­com­pa­nied by the Livermore-Amador Sym­phony. Nearly three dozen events run through June 2018, in­clud­ing the mu­sic of Los Lonely Boys, OK GO, and Man­hat­tan Trans­fer, the comic tal­ents of Rita Rud­ner, Dave Coulier, and Vicki Lawrence, and many more.

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