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Keiko Matsui: Deep Blue

Keiko Matsui hasn’t yet handed over her talents over to a hotshot producer who could program her composing and keyboard skills into a smooth-jazz wet dream. Instead, on her 11th CD, Matsui continues to build on the kind of sweeping and dreamy piano music that illuminates the soundtrack of the mind, a grandiose sound more in common with Yanni and Jim Brickman than Bob James (who she has performed with) or Brian Culbertson. Along with husband Kazu Matsui, who produced, Matsui instead offers 10 songs on Deep Blue that inspire with the composer’s deep-seated need to trigger emotional responses.

Typical of Matsui’s style are the title track and “Water for the Tribe,” which begins softly with a tease, and then glides subtly along on the keyboardist’s bright acoustic runs before climaxing in a burst of synthesized orchestral passion. But she does it well. There is another side to Matsui, however: her knack for an orphan song on each CD memorable for its incredible hook and bouncy rhythm. She does it again with “Across the Sun.”

Alas, a little bit of Matsui goes a long way. Although her skills as a composer are obvious, the pretty melodies and spiritually uplifting anthems over the course of a CD grow sonorous and beg for a guitar break, wordless vocals, a drum solo, anything to toss spice into the sugar.

Originally Published