April 20, 2024

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CD review: Keiko Matsui – Euphoria – 2023: Video, CD cover

Keiko Matsui, a contemporary jazz icon for decades, is releasing her 30th recording, Euphoria, on March 31, 2023, which she describes as an album about the hope we carry inside us.

“I have this dream where we can each cherish our own happiness and learn to accept and care for one another. When I tour around the world and witness how my music cuts through our differences and connects everyone, it makes me feel euphoric!” exclaims the internationally acclaimed pianist, composer, and humanitarian.

The album features collaborations with old and new friends such as Lalah Hathaway, Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Kirk Whalum, Joel Ross, Grégoire Maret, and John Beasley. As you would expect from Keiko, the recording features rich harmonies and global rhythms and a mix of ballads and more uptempo compositions.

Euphoria is a heartfelt and epic statement, born from Keiko’s wish to increase harmony on the planet and make a positive impact for future generations. “I want to make a positive impact for children in this generation and the future. Through prayer and my music, I hope to be able to increase more harmony on this planet,” she explains.

“At the core of this album is beauty, strength, energy, love, and hope,” Keiko Matsui says. “These are all the things in life that we need to move forward on a new path. This music is dedicated to a new era.”

The set begins with Steps On The Globe. It is always good to start off an album with a little upbeat funk. Matsui is at her best when she is working them keys, and you get the full spectrum of here talent right here. Her use of horns in her songs will always excite the old school music enthusiasts.

Guitarist Mike Stern is featured on The Choice. Stern’s guitar sound perfectly adds depth to the overall feel of the track. This sounds like of of those elite jam sessions that Matsui is known for. If you haver seen her live, you know what we are talking about.

Matsui breaks it down with Prairie Morning. The strings behind the lead piano add a little drama, and overall, the instruments really exude that unplugged, organic feel.

Neo is next, and it features Randy Brecker. This is one of those uptempo, straight-ahead jazz tracks, and of course, the style has Randy Brecker written all over it. The best way to describe the instrumentation here is organized chaos…In a good way.

Love And Nothing Less is next. Vocals are provided by the incomparable Lalah Hathaway. Grégoire Maret is also here on the harmonica. What can you say about the vocal stylings of Ms. Hathaway that has not already been said? It is worth pointing out that the harmonica is not a widely used instrument, but when used correctly, it can be the perfect accompaniment to a song. Maret really does his thing on the track.

Kirk Whalum is here for Luminescence. At first listen, this really sounds like a modern day soul version of a Big Band track. We would not be mad if we had more of this!

Matsui changes it up a bit with Rosso Cantabile. The sound and style are straight out of a movie scene and you just know that scene has some hijinks going on. If a song truly has character, this one would be a unique individual.

In Legend of Yaguarón, Matsui is back with her signature style. We love tracks like this, where each instrument is allowed to shine. We especially love the flute, as it adds a whimsical feel to the song. Matsui is a piano technician and it shows in this piece.

Mossy Mountain is next, and it definitely offers some feel-good vibes. Sonically, it is easy on the ears, and even though it is a mellow song at it’s core, it does have great energy.

In Blue Water, she get another showcase track, where all of the musicians get their change to do their thing. Matsui is front and center with the lead piano, and everyone else plays off of her quite impeccably.

The title track, Euphoria, is next. Joel Ross is featured with his vibraphone, and we are getting some Take Five vibes on this one. The vibraphone is a welcome touch to the song, and at 6 and a half minutes long, the listener gets plenty of time to enjoy the music.

The album concludes with New Passage. This is the Keiko Matsui style, the one that her fans have come to expect.

Euphoria is Matsui’s 30th recording, and it is clear that there are no signs of slowdown from this accomplished artist. You can stream the album now through your favorite service.

01. STEPS ON THE GLOBE
Keiko Matsui – Piano, Melodion; Alex Al – Bass; Gregg Bissonette – Drums; Tony Pulizzi – Guitar;
Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes, Keys; Wayne Bergeron – Trumpet; Nick Lane – Trombone; Brandon Fields – Saxophone
02. THE CHOICE
(featuring Mike Stern) Mike Stern – Lead Guitar; Keiko Matsui – Piano; Alex Al – Bass;
Gregg Bissonette – Drums; Tony Pulizzi – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes, Keys
03. PRAIRIE MORNING
Keiko Matsui – Piano; Alex Al – Bass; Gregg Bissonette – Drums; Tony Pulizzi – Guitar;
Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes; Euphoria Strings
04. NEO
(featuring Randy Brecker) Randy Brecker – Flugelhorn; Keiko Matsui – Piano; Alex Al – Bass,
Gregg Bissonette – Drums; Tony Pulizzi – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes
05. LOVE AND NOTHING LESS
(featuring Lalah Hathaway & Grégoire Maret)
Lalah Hathaway – Vocals; Grégoire Maret – Harmonica; Keiko Matsui – Piano; Jimmy Johnson – Bass; Jimmy Branly – Drums; Michael Thompson – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes; JP Mourao – Acoustic Guitar
06. LUMINESCENCE
(featuring Kirk Whalum) Kirk Whalum – Tenor Sax; Keiko Matsui – Piano; Alex Al – Bass;
Gregg Bissonette – Drums; Tony Pulizzi – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes, Hammond B3;
Wayne Bergeron – Trumpet; Nick Lane – Trombone; Brandon Fields – Saxophone
07. ROSSO CANTABILE
Keiko Matsui – Piano, Melodion; Rico Belled – Bass; Jimmy Branly – Drums; JP Mourao – Guitar;
Luis Conte – Percussion; Euphoria Strings
08. LEGEND OF YAGUARÓN
Keiko Matsui – Piano, Rhodes; Brandon Fields – Flute; Rico Belled – Bass; Jimmy Branly – Drums; JP Maurao – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion
09. MOSSY MOUNTAIN
Keiko Matsui – Piano; Jimmy Johnson – Bass; Jimmy Branly – Drums; JP Mourao – Acoustic guitar (solo); Michael Thompson – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Euphoria Strings
10.BLUE WATER
Keiko Matsui – Piano; Jimmy Johnson – Bass; Jimmy Branly – Drums; Randy Waldman – Marimba;
Michael Thompson – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes; Keiko Matsui & Bud Harner – Vocals
11. EUPHORIA
(featuring Joel Ross) Joel Ross – Vibraphone; Keiko Matsui – Piano; Jimmy Johnson – Bass;
Jimmy Branly – Drums; Michael Thompson – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Ron Pedley – Rhodes; John Beasley – Synthesizer; Euphoria Strings
12. NEW PASSAGE
Keiko Matsui – Piano; Rico Belled – Bass; Jimmy Branly – Drums; JP Mourao – Guitar; Luis Conte – Percussion; Euphoria Strings

Stream Keiko Matsui : Euphoria by SmoothJazz.com Global | Listen online for  free on SoundCloud

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