on 6 June 2007
Moyo is a wonderful album for those new to Keiko Matsui as it captures her musical development for the past two decades, from smooth jazz to new age, and the emergence of a new style incorporating a wider range of ethnic influences and a willingness to record in more spontaneous settings.
Following her divorce last year from her personal and professional partner of more than twenty years, Keiko Matsui began exploring new musical directions, a walk into the future punctuated with occasional glances into the past. The result is her first album of original work in two years, music that both looks back and looks ahead.
Her new direction finds Matsui borrowing from the African contemporary jazz scene, not only in compositions infused with African rhythms, but also in her choice of performing and recording mates, including the reigning grandfather of South African jazz, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Angolan vocalist Waldemar Bastos, and Cameroonian bassist/singer Richard Bona. Matsui also seems to be trying to open up her performing by recording with live musicians in more spontaneous settings, rather than continuing to develop the carefully orchestrated synthesizer work for which she has long been known and at which she excels.
She hasn't abandoned that style altogether. You can find a couple of examples on Moyo, slower numbers based on piano and synthetic strings that will be pleasingly familiar to fans who have made her albums of the past seven to eight years commercial successes. Going back even further, Matsui calls on saxophonist Paul Taylor, a member of her touring and recording band in the mid-to late 90's, and Gerald Albright, who first recorded with Matsui in 1991, to help light up a few smooth jazz memories.
If you've never heard Matsui, Moyo would be a great place to start. If you've been a fan for years, you might find this album a marvelous retrospective.