Music is a great power of peace, which aims to help people overcome all challenges and cope with any difficulties. Among the variety of musical styles, beautiful jazz music is a special one since it intends to cure the suffering human soul. Certainly, the world knows many talented jazz artists, but only Keiko Matsui is an amazing symbiosis of two different cultures, including the Japanese and the American ones, who has become famous all over the world. The music of Keiko Matsui is a deep reflection of all events and experiences of the two peoples. The audience loves her live performances since they are full of energy and emotions. Being an artist of the two cultures, Keiko Matsui is the source of energy, kindness, talent, and genius. Therefore, the following essay intends to explore creativity of Keiko Matsui, as well as her uniqueness as an international musician.
Keiko Matsui is a famous Japanese-American artist who has dedicated all her life to music. Being a symbiosis of different cultures and traditions, Keiko Matsui has become a musician of the world. Indeed, her artistic legacy is enormous. As such, she “has received international acclaim for her 24 albums spanning a quarter of a century” ("Keiko Matsui: Ambassador of Jazz "). This famous musician was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, but now she lives with her family in Los Angeles, considering the United States as her second home. Matsui started piano lessons when she was a little girl at the age of five. There exists a Japanese legend, according to which if the child is interested in something at the age of five, he or she should dedicate the entire life to this sphere. This rule worked perfectly in Matsui`s case. The girl loved piano lessons and transformed her hobby into work. In one of the interviews, Matsui tells that she went to the private school called Yamaha Music School. The artist remembers that her cherished dream was to compose and perform music for children. Therefore, she “studied children’s literature at Japan Women’s University” (“Keiko Matsui: Ambassador of Jazz”). Undoubtedly, she was a very talented girl with the bottomless heart, dreaming that once her music would change the world and make it better. It was Keiko`s mother who taught her little girl that piano music could bring not only aesthetic pleasure, but could also cure emotional wounds. Before moving to the USA, Matsui became famous in her native community for her wonderful and soulful music.
Indeed, the music of Keiko Matsui touches me on the emotional level because I totally forget about my worries and problems while listening to her unique and recognizable sound. Her music can be called a relaxing elixir for people of different ages. Therefore, Keiko Matsui is considered to be one of the greatest contemporary keyboardists. As for her favorite music, Keiko Matsui says that she has no borders in music and she likes every musical instrument. Reflecting on the process of music writing, Matsui compares it to giving birth to a child. It is a very intimate process for Matsui. The artist sits down in front of the piano without playing; she is waiting for some sounds in her head to begin to unite into a beautiful melody, which would become popular all over the world. Despite the universality of Keiko Matsui`s music, it cannot be confused with any other. The effect of her unusual and eccentric compositions is achieved through sophisticated arrangements created by using a wide variety of instruments, whereby a Japanese flute, shakuhachi, is the most impressive one. Matsui`s music is the combination of strong and, at the same time, gentle and unobtrusive sounds, which determines exclusiveness and beauty of Matsui`s compositions.
Being an international artist, Keiko Matsui considers the primary purpose of her music as uniting people beyond their culture and religion. She says, “The challenges we face on earth such as 9/11 and the March 11th Japan disaster impact my music” (“Keiko Matsui: Ambassador of Jazz”). What is more, Matsui has collaborated with many famous musicians such as George Benson, Miles Davis, Philip Bailey, James Ingram, Bob James, Chaka Khan, Patti Austin, and many others. However, her favorite musician is Sting and she dreams that sometimes she would have a wonderful possibility to work with him. As a multicultural musician, Keiko Matsui performs her duties very well. Living in the USA, Matsui gives approximately ten concerts per year in her native Japan. She was even introduced as a music ambassador between the US and Japan on her first performance with an orchestra for the US Air Force at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Matsui acknowledges that, being an artist of two cultures, she is responsible for the cultural development of both nations. Thus, she participated in a great show along with Stevie Wonder, James Ingram, Parry Austin, and others for the benefit of American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund Wave of Peace after the tragedy of 9/11. Matsui believes that music is a prayer, which is spiritually important. She considers the peace in the world as the highest human virtue. Hence, she says, “The most important thing in my life is to dedicate concerts to peace on earth and share my passion and emotion with the audience” (“Keiko Matsui: Ambassador of Jazz”).
Listening to the music of beautiful Keiko Matsui, one can relax and reach inner harmony, which is particularly important in the fussy contemporary world. Musical critics, as well as the audience adore this sound: “Throughout her distinguished career, Matsui hasn’t been overly concerned with garnering recognition for her virtuosity” (Soergel). Her music is a divine message for everyone, which strives to teach kindness, generosity, and tolerance towards others. I believe that Keiko Matsui has the divine gift and her music is the medicine for any suffering soul. It gives hope and helps gain harmony and faith. If I had the same level of skill and talent as this great woman, I would share my energy with the whole world just like she does. Matsui believes that she can help millions of people and she does not hesitate to do it. Realizing her mission, Keiko Matsui has been trying to help people with cancer. Thus, “Countdown Records contemporary jazz artist Keiko Matsui has launched a multifaceted promotional campaign and tour to support breast cancer awareness” (Horak). Matsui has explained her desire to help others as following: “I have been so fortunate in my life that I decided I wanted to give something back through my music to charity.” (Horak) Reflecting upon breast cancer as one of the most dangerous diseases, Matsui continues, “As a woman and the mother of two daughters, I became alarmed by the breast cancer statistics and wanted to do what I could” (Horak). In such a way, Matsui constantly proves her right to be called a generous humanitarian.
Overall, professionalism and musical style of Keiko Matsui are highly appreciated not only in the United States and Japan, but also in many other countries. “The Tokyo-born artist, although often placed in the contemporary jazz category, has always been more about inspiration and hope” (Soergel). Her performances are always great events that interest the most demanding jazz music listeners. The manner of Matsui`s performance is influenced not only by classic jazz, but also by the new age, the harmonious plexus of which creates an amazing ease of perception. It is a versatile music of creativity and freedom of thought: this music is relevant always and everywhere, it touches the deepest strings of the soul. Jazz fans do not miss her performances since they know that they will see the naked soul of a talented musician. Critics sometimes consider Matsui`s style to be the music for intellectuals or modern jazz. This woman has really revolutionized jazz music by making it softer. Matsui`s music is an inspirational and genuine art, which penetrates the soul. Her style is multifaceted like a brilliant and impresses the audience with the amazing richness of the image. Undeniable talent and persistence have brought Keiko Matsui to stellar heights and helped her to get worldwide recognition. Today, Keiko Matsui is idolized by her fans and adored by critics. She is a long-awaited star on the most famous music venues. Reaching the worldwide fame, Matsui still cannot believe in her success. Therefore, she is genuinely happy when she sees that the audience gets a real pleasure from listening to her music.
In conclusion, it should be said that Keiko Matsui is one of the most talented contemporary artists. She is a citizen of two countries, thus symbolizing the deep Japanese culture and the American pursue of freedom of the soul. She believes that people put their minds together with the universe and themselves while listening to her music. Keiko Matsui calls herself a spiritual person and it is true since she makes a great contribution to the development of human souls. Being a kind and modest woman, Keiko Matsui does not take her gift for granted; she believes that it is her chance to help others and she does it successfully. By helping others, Matsui says her ‘thanks’ to heaven for her divine gift.