*“The energy and emotions at concerts…in front of a real audience,” said international Japanese Jazz pianist Keiko Matsui about the meaning of “Euphoria” (Shanachie) her 30th album release, which is off a label that is one of the premiere record imprints we have operating today. “…We just started touring.”
As we talked about touring, she mentioned how touring influenced the making of the new project and how it was the reason she lost her job.
“Last year everyone started touring (after the pandemic)…so everybody was so busy, so it was hard to get into the studio. I had the time. I lost my job due to touring. It was a miracle it happened,” Keiko said honestly.
“By the end of 2021, I had collected about 90 songs. I had to squeeze them to 40. Then last year I asked my manager to listen to them to squeeze them to 12 songs,” she said.
The “Euphoria” album has Jazz icons featured on it that consist of saxophonist Kirk Whalum, pianist/arranger John Beasley, and Jazz vocalist Lalah Hathaway. That is just naming a few. Then she also has her touring band on the “Euphoria” project that consists of Alex Al on bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, Tony Pulizzi on guitar, Luis Conte on percussion, Ron Pedley on Rhodes/keys, Wayne Bergeron on trumpet, Nick Lane on trombone, Brandon Fields on saxophone, Rico Belled on bass, JP Mourao on guitar, and Jimmy Branly on drums.
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I told Keiko that is a lot of love, as far as featured musicians and the support of Lalah’s vocals is the cherry on the cake – gives it that special touch.
“Kirk and I knew each other. I admire his work and he is a good friend. For a couple of years, we have been doing special projects together. I flew to his studio,” Matsui explained about her connection to Whalum when I asked.
I admitted Kirk and John Beasley were some of my favorite Jazz musicians and she said, “I was invited to an international Jazz festival and that was the first time I met John Beasley. He was music director…a great composer.”
“I asked him (John Beasley) to arrange a couple of songs on my album. He was in Europe. He invited me to a concert and after the show, I said so maybe we can work together…because I admire his work,” she added.
When I asked her about how she selected the artists on the project she said, “It depends on the song…who is the best. Then between my manager…we decide. The vocalist (Lala Hathaway) was last minute. I received a melody and immediately heard Lalah’s voice. We got her to write and sing.”
Matsui continued about the single Lalah wrote and song on for her, “I composed an instrumental carrying my emotions. She said I got you.”
Keiko Matsui, aside from being a very entertaining Jazz pianist, is a humanitarian doing all that she can to help bring “euphoria” into the world. She has lent her celebrity status to help raise funds for such organizations as The Daniel Pearl Foundation and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Also joining her on the “Euphoria” album is Randy Brecker on trumpet, Mike Stern on guitar, Joel Ross on vibraphone, and Gregoire Maret on harmonica. “Euphoria” is co-produced by her manager Grammy-nominated producer Bud Harner (Lalah Hathaway’s producer). You can catch Keiko Matsui in concert Saturday April 29, 2023, at the Cerritos Center in Los Angeles County, with special guest Kirk Whalum. www.Shanachie.com www.KeikoMatsui.com
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Dr. Eunice Moseley has an estimated weekly readership of over one million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations and Business Management Strategist and Consultant at Freelance Associates and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com EVENTS: “Uplifting Minds II” Entertainment Conference (ULMII), founded by Eunice in 1999, is into its 24th year. Next events are coming to Baltimore via Zoom Saturday April 15, 2023, and to Los Angeles via Zoom Saturday, November 11, 2023. The ULMII event is a free entertainment conference offering a Professional Industry Panel Q&A Session, a Professional Talent Showcase and National Talent Competition (vocal, songwriting, dance and acting) where aspiring artists have a chance to receive over $18,000 valued in cash, product and services. Log onto www.UpliftingMinds2.com, a 501 c3 organization, for more information or to RSVP for Zoom Access email info@ThePulseofEntertainment.com.
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