Walls of Akendura is the latest release from jazz pianist Keiko Matsui. Matsui is a proven artist, playing concert halls and festivals and claiming to the fact of 1.2 million units sold in the United States. Her playing began at the age of five and her career took off in 1987 with the release of A Drop of Water. Since then she has built a strong reputation and strung off fourteen more projects. This work has earned several accolades. In 1996, she was named Top Indie Contemporary Jazz Artist by Billboard magazine. Other notables includes her winning the National Smooth Jazz Award for Best Long-Form Video Achievement in 2000 (for her PBS-TV special), as well as Best Female Artist in 2000 and 2001.
But Matsui’ s most important work has been against cancer. She fought extensively, touring, holding benefits and releasing CDs, A Gift of Hope, and Gift of Life to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer and other related causes.
The title Akendora can shed some light on the music of this release Matsui says ‘Akendora is a fictional place of my own device! It is a place that I go to find peace and spend contemplative moments.’ This feeling and mood is well conveyed throughout the disc. The acoustic piano plays most of the meaningful musical material: simple, playful melodies sometimes accompanied by traditional jazz instruments like the trumpet and saxophone. Electronic keyboards provide sweeping chords as well as percussive effects and background rhythms. Every track is in the four minute neighbourhood, quickly paced and ideal for airplay, much to the delight of smooth jazz stations. Walls of Akendora can be best described as contemporary new age smooth jazz. It is catchy music yet with many reflective moments. Akendora’ s hooks will snag many new and different jazz fans. From smooth and new age, to contemporary and fusion. Those familiar with Matsui’ s work can expect more of the solid and consistent music that she has been delivering for the last 18 years.