The S&R Foundation‘s first annual spring celebration gala, held at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club on the first truly lovely weekend of the season, featured a lively performance from pianist Keiko Matsui.
Matsui, who has 23 albums to her credit and just finished a tour of eastern Europe, played a masterful set with her backing band. Her songs are a blend of jazz, classical, new age and world music, and she seemed to have a story for each of them. She explained, for instance, the meaning of the ellipsis in “The Road…,” a song off her latest album of the same name.
“Each of us have our own road. Each road continues, so we must have the dot dot dot,” she said.
Another song, “Forever, Forever,” was inspired by something her daughter said to Matsui on her second birthday.
“She said, ‘I love you mommy, forever, forever.’ Of course, that was in Japanese,” Matsui said.
Matsui played works that spanned her entire career. Some, like “Across the Sun,” a track that she said went to the top of the Billboard chart in 2000, retained a fresh, playful sound. Others, such as 1993’s “Doll,” off her sixth album, seemed very much of their time.
Still, the best songs were the ones Matsui played solo. The encore, just her playing on a black Yamaha concert grand, was particularly haunting.
A veteran musician, Matsui effortlessly showed off her talents throughout her set. Her towering updo swished and shook with every note she played, while her silvery sequined gown caught the light as she moved between the concert grand, a keyboard and, for one song, a keytar.
Matsui said that after the show, she and her band had plans to tour throughout the U.S. She is also playing at a U.N. music event and wants to start working on her 24th album.
The S&R foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports talented individuals in the arts and sciences.