By Sheryl Aronson
I wrote this article one year ago. Since that time, I have had the distinct honor to interview Keiko Matsui three times, attend an acoustic concert December 2015, and spend an afternoon with Keiko right before she took off on her new tour to promote, “Journey to the Heart,” her latest CD.
Now Keiko has given me a morning, noon, and night… I will never forget.
Every Saturday morning, smooth jazz lovers can tune into an on-line streamed radio program called Smooth Saturdays with Aysha from 10am -12pm on www.urbansoulradiomedia.com. For two hours, audience members are listening to an intensive interview with the featured musical artist or artists, plus the guest musician performs a few songs from their newest release CD. I’ve been invited to a few live shows as a journalist for The Hollywood 360 and recently working in collaboration with Mikey Adam Cohen under the new title Museically Inclined with The Hollywood 360.
This Saturday was a morning I’ll never forget, because Mikey and his father, Jack Cohen, helped me attain a long-term goal…to interview Ms. Keiko Matsui. Aysha had an exclusive premier broadcast playing Keiko Matsui’s not yet released CD, Keiko Matsui, Live in Tokyo.
I’ve admired this artist since she hit the jazz scene in 1987. I’ve been a big supporter of female jazz musicians since the 1970’s (yes, that long) and back then only the superb vocalists existed in the limelight. Keiko and Patrice Rushen then changed all of that as they both added their unique sounds, and chops on the keyboards. Keiko is a Master musician/composer/ and human being. Her philosophy of life permeates everything she touches…and that’s what makes the music that flows from her fingers uplift the spirits of her audience. She said over and over again this morning, “I receive a song…I wait in front of the piano and don’t play…then a whole melody emerges dropping the notes and reflecting my soul.” Lovely.
Ms. Matsui performed three songs that morning, Whispers From The Mirror, Forever, Forever and What’s Going On. Her technique was flawless, the colors and textures of her original compositions were complex, and yet a river of melody flowed strongly underneath…her distinct style resonated and branded the identifiable sound only attributed to a Keiko Matsui song.
As requested by Jack Cohen, the keyboardist delighted us all with an impromptu session with the host and vocalist, Aysha and co-host, Nelson Miller as they sung “What’s Going On.” Between the sweet soulful vocals of the two singers and Keiko’s almost classical sounding keyboard playing, it was the smoothest, sensual version of the song, I’ve ever heard. As Billy Crystal used to say, “Marvelous, Simply Marvelous.”
While I absorbed the morning’s dialogue between Keiko Matsui and Aysha and the other co-hosts. Nelson Miller, Dion Lattimore and Mikey Adam Cohen, a peaceful inspiration percolated, urging my hand to write a poem. Describing what being a musician meant to her, Keiko told everyone, “Music is like a mirror, your personality and your spirit show.” Going deeper into her psyche, Keiko continued, “Success doesn’t matter, a musician has a special gift from the Universe, from God and they have a responsibility to show that gift. I see myself as a vehicle between Heaven and Earth, like a Shaman.”
Keiko also takes time to speak with her fans and give back to them the same appreciation they share with this artist. Her music heals and inspires many people.
To me, Keiko Matsui embodies what I so admire in artists that are Masters…not because they have fame, not because they are better than…but because they honor the human condition.
So here’s the poem I wrote while listening to Keiko Matsui speak.
A True Master
A true Master
humble, yet wise
gracious, yet giving
strong, yet transparent
reaching into eternity’s inspiration.
smiles and encourages
sees the Master existing in each human
bows down in honor
knowing God has walked there too.
After Saturday Morning with Aysha went off the air, it was my turn to interview Keiko Matsui. Almost thirty years have passed since I first heard this innovative jazz pianist/composer caress the keys…it was worth the wait.
Photo Credit (Unless otherwise noted): Sheryl Aronson
Smooth Jazz Saturdays with Aysha has moved to LA Talk Radio.