Pianist’s ‘Soul Quest’ leads to River Raisin Jazz FestivalWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Keiko Matsui spotted a painting, “Black Lion,” in a Georgia restaurant during an Eastern European tour. She was captivated by the majestic animal’s strength and mystified by the haunting melancholy in his eyes.
“This painting was made by Niko Pirosmani, who is a very popular Georgian painter. And when I met this painting, I fell in love,” the pianist recalled. “At the same time, I heard about a very sad love story of this painter, and I felt his loneliness, passion and romanticism. Those things inspired me to make this song.”
With sparkling, soaring key work, Matsui restores the big cat’s roar.
“Black Lion” was the first single from the songwriter’s 2013 disc, “Soul Quest.”
“When I compose, I don’t think anything. I just sit in front of the piano waiting to hear something from above,” Matsui said during a call from Tokyo. “And sometimes nature, like the moon, ocean or scenery from my trip, inspires me.”
Hearing from fans about life struggles also motivates the artist.
“Everybody has hard times sometimes,” she said. “I notice that my music is very connected and deeply touching to individuals’ lives, so I really feel honored and I feel this is my mission to dedicate my melodies.”
Divine describes her memorable music, whether filled with cascading runs and funky rhythms or soothing, thought-provoking finesse.
Matsui sat down on the piano bench for lessons at age 5 in her native Japan. Growing up, she tuned in everything.
“I was listening to many different genres, sometimes movie soundtracks, sometimes Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Bob James and Sting,” she said. “And very naturally I started writing my own music. So that’s why my compositions have many different elements — sometimes classical, sometimes rock, sometimes jazz.”
She released her U.S. debut, “A Drop of Water,” in 1987. With 2001’s “Deep Blue,” Matsui became the first Japanese artist to top the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart.
Matsui will play the River Raisin Jazz Festival at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 9 at St. Mary’s Park in Monroe. Saxophonist and flutist Jackiem Joyner will join her at the free event.
“In this era, you can download music or you can have a CD and everything technically. But at the concert, facing each other and sharing this same space and air is the most important thing,” the composer said. “For me, music is like a prayer, and every time I really feel fortunate to have this magical time with the audience.”
The full festival schedule is as follows:
Saturday, Aug. 9
1 p.m. The River Raisin Big Band
2:30 p.m. Lady Sunshine & The X Band
4 p.m. Walter White
5:45 p.m. Keiko Matsui with Jackiem Joyner
7:30 p.m. Alexander Zonjic with Karen Briggs
Sunday, Aug. 10
1 p.m. Bob Rex Quartet
2:30 p.m. Hoozier Daddy
4 p.m. Universal Expressions
5:45 p.m. Marc Antoine with Brian Simpson
7:30 p.m. Spyro Gyra
Tags: Black Lion, Bob James, Chick Corea, Eastern European tour, Georgia, jazz, Keiko Matsui, Monroe, Niko Pirosmani, painter, pianist, piano, River Raisin Jazz Festival, saxophone, Soul Quest, St. Mary's Park, Stevie Wonder, Sting