Concert Review: Keiko Matsui

Santa Fe Station, August 24

Photo by Glenn Brogan

Photo by Glenn Brogan

A skilled keyboardist with a charming stage presence, 52-year-old Keiko Matsui and her ensemble celebrated her 24th U.S. release, Soul Quest, with a 12-song set. Her pre-song anecdotes were endearing, whether she was describing her young daughter’s words that inspired “Forever, Forever” or a night out and too much local liquor that sparked “A Night With Cha Cha.” Matsui’s work is both worldly and benign. Caribbean and Japanese influences are rolled into pop/jazz instrumentals salted here and there with cleaned-up rock ’n’ roll: all very friendly melodies and predictable motifs. Although she seems plainly interested in speaking to big questions such as the meaning of our own lives on Soul Quest’s title track and global warming in “Antarctica,” her smooth jazz compositions seem more polite requests than calls to action. ★★★☆☆