Matsui ready to go for Thornton Winery

Published on June 21st, 2018

By Jim Dail

Keiko Matsui is in a good, happy place right now.

She is relaxing at home, getting ready to work on her 28th album and enjoying the spoils of her work.

“It’s been crazy, but it’s all good” she said. “I never count how long I am gone, and I don’t know how much I’m on the road. I stay in my Los Angeles home maybe less than 2 months a year, and in my Tokyo home maybe 10 days.”

She is going on the road to Thornton Winery on Saturday night, along with Acoustic Alchemy, as part of the 2018 Champagne Jazz Concert Series.

“From March I did a Russian tour and then a Caribbean smooth jazz cruise then a U.S. tour then a Baltic cruise with Dave Koz then London and Connecticut,” she said. “The shows are great but traveling with a lot of luggage for weeks is very hard.”

Of course, being on stage is one of her joys.

“I feel dedicating a concert is a mission of my life and because of my experiences the last 30 years and going all over the world I see that music connects us past all the differences,” she said. “But at the same time I am enjoying creating each album. I just need the time and concentration.”

For Matsui, the song creation serves a range of purposes.

“Sometimes I feel because each fan has a favorite song and sometimes they pick from really older ones and everyone has preference already, do I need to make more songs since I have more than 270 songs already,” she said.  “At the same time, for myself I feel this is a journey for me and I am changing and thinking and the situation is different. Each album is a reflection of myself and my thoughts and it is important to create new ones.”

It is the whole creative process that thrills her.

“I wonder what’s going to come next,” she said. “When I start writing for the next album, it’s like a white canvas and I just to wait to hear something from somewhere. Everything depends on the melody.”

She began to learn the piano at a young age, but it wasn’t a pressure-filled situation where her mother was concerned.

“She didn’t really push me, but it wasn’t just for fun as the lessons were strict,” she said. “At the same time, I never thought about being a pro musician. I’d have a busy time for lessons and writing original programs for competitions, but I always felt that after all this I am going to quit. Then when I had the opportunity to write theme music for a serious Japanese movie it changed. I met the director and he gave me the book and then the image about the movie and it just suddenly from that the melody came to me.”

Of course, that was not her first composition.

“I started to write tiny songs in elementary school,” she said. “Instead of a diary, I was writing that. When it came time to write for the movie, my mental condition had been changed. It was very interesting. I don’t need to see the video, but when I heard the image from director talking to me I just felt it. I hear the melody.”

The sense of creativity is not just about the melody.

“Lately I’ve been wanting to share everything I have been feeling so I have been doing things with an acoustic band,” she said. I did a big show in Tokyo for my live record. At that point I felt my electric band had completed and I just wanted to do something new.”

What came to mind was going acoustic, which she did with the 2016 album “Journey to the Heart.”

“I invited a Cuban drummer and acoustic bass player, a guitarists and percussionists from South America and I made the album,” he said. “It allowed for a different place compared to other albums that were just high energy. Even when I do live shows I feel my energy is different because there is so much emotion.”

That’s not lost on her fans.

“Recently some of my fans have told me after the show that the music and show have so much emotion and they thanked me for the experience,” she said.

On stage now, fans can expect perhaps both styles.

“I am very excited because depending on the show I will combine both to make a super hybrid Keiko,” she said. “In the past I never listened to requests or did cover songs because record companies want a hit and many tried covers, but I feel there are so many great artists and songs that it would be hard to choose which ones to do. Fortunately fans are waiting for my melody.”

It provides her freedom.

“I have both styles in mind with no borders between those formats,” she said. “I love to express everything, and sometimes it’s very intimate and sometimes it’s some type of big song maybe with a big production.”


When:  7 p.m., Saturday, June 23

Where: Thornton Winery, Temecula

Admission: General admission $75. Gourmet Supper $150

Information: Call 951-699-3021 or visit Website,


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