Keiko Matsui

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Keiko Matsui
Jazz pianist Keiko Matsui.JPG
Background information
Native name 松居 慶子
Birth name 土居 慶子 (Keiko Doi)
Born (1961-07-26) July 26, 1961 (age 56)
Tokyo, Japan
Genres Smooth jazz, jazz fusion, new-age
Occupation(s) Composer, musician
Years active 1980–present
Labels Shanachie
Pony Canyon

Keiko Matsui (松居 慶子, Matsui Keiko, born 26 July 1961, as Keiko Doi), is a Japanese keyboardist and composer, specializing in smooth jazz, jazz fusion and new-age music. Her career spans four decades, during which time she has released twenty CDs (in addition to various compilations). She resides in Los Angeles, California.

Early years[edit]

Keiko Doi was born in Tokyo, Japan. Her mother, Emiko, took her to her first piano lesson in the June following her fifth birthday. Japanese tradition holds that a child who is introduced to lessons at this time will continue in those studies for a long time. The tradition held true for Doi, who studied piano throughout her school years. Though her early training focused on classical music, in junior high school she developed an interest in jazz and began composing her own music. Some of her musical influences at the time included Stevie Wonder, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Maurice Jarre and Chick Corea.

Doi studied children's culture at Japan Women's University (日本女子大学, nihon joshidaigaku), but also continued to study music at the Yamaha Music Foundation. Doi was a top student in the Yamaha Music Education System and was selected at the age of seventeen to be a recording artist for them. Thus she joined the Japanese jazz fusion group Cosmos, which recorded seven albums.

At age 19, Yamaha sent Doi to America to record an album, and there she met Kazu Matsui, who had been selected as a producer for the project. In 1987, Matsui recorded her solo debut LP, A Drop of Water. The album's title, the name of a song by Carl Anderson, was in memory of those who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster the year before. Its success led to a record deal with MCA Records.

Recording success[edit]

Signing an autograph.

Keiko Matsui released two albums under the MCA label before moving on to White Cat, Countdown, Unity and currently Narada. The 1990s saw Matsui's albums rise in the charts. Sapphire hit number two on Billboard's weekly Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, and Dream Walk reached number three. Matsui was rated Billboard's number three Top Contemporary Jazz Artist for 1997 (she was the only female jazz artist in the top ten), and both Dream Walk and Sapphire appeared in Billboard's Top Ten Indie Contemporary Jazz Albums for the same year.[citation needed]

Matsui received the Oasis award for Best Female Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year in 1999 and again in 2000. In 2001, Matsui's first album with Narada, Deep Blue, finally took her to the number one spot on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and held the position for three weeks.[citation needed]

When United States President George W. Bush visited Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's residence on February 18, 2002, Keiko Matsui was invited to the reception and met both men and members of their administrations.

Matsui discovered saxophonist Paul Taylor, who appeared on Sapphire, Dream Walk, and Full Moon and the Shrine before going on to a successful career of his own.[1]

Charitable causes[edit]

Matsui has taken an interest in a variety of charitable causes. Her 1997 mini-CD A Gift of Hope went to support the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, and her music appeared in a Lifetime channel special about breast cancer, "Say It, Fight It, Cure It". Matsui also played at a special ice skating benefit in 1997 to support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Proceeds from Matsui's 2001 mini-CD A Gift of Life went to the National Marrow Donor Program and the Marrow Foundation in support of their program Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, which promotes the registration of people of ethnic minorities as marrow donors in hopes of improving the chance of finding matching donors for people of similar descent, in need.

Royalties from the title track of Matsui's 2004 CD Wildflower went to support of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Matsui played at the United Nations Headquarters building in New York City on December 17, 2003, to benefit the WFP and fight world hunger.


Matsui's music is powerful and introspective, blending both Western and Eastern musical influences. She has a very spiritual view of composing music, feeling out each composition as though it were, in her words, "coming to me from another space, another dimension," and "catching notes from the silence and then simply placing them together".[2] Matsui sees music as "the great gifts from the human souls from the past, for the children of the future".[3] She believes that music has a power to bring people together and change their lives. "We are connected by music," Matsui wrote, "as the Ocean connects the continents".[4]

A lover of nature, Matsui often makes reference to plants, animals, the elements, and other natural features and phenomena in her song titles. She shows a special fascination with the moon as a number of her compositions refer to the moon in their titles.

Matsui's music shows signs of evolving over the years. Her American debut album A Drop of Water showed a promise of east meets west with a jazz fusion flavor. However, her recordings for MCA Records in the early 1990s lacked this appeal and, for many, sounded indistinguishable from the rest of what is now known as smooth jazz. Starting with Cherry Blossom, though, her music increased in popularity as she differentiated herself from the rest of contemporary jazz. By the time Sapphire was released in 1995, her music flirted with everything from funk music to Latin and world music.

Whisper from the Mirror from 2000 showed Matsui leaving the smooth jazz style and moving towards new age with a soundscape sound. A number of her fans had a problem adapting to her new style of music (though she continued to play smooth jazz at her concerts). But many welcomed the change. Over time her post-2000 albums show a more worldbeat flavor to them. Her 2005 release Walls of Akendora, however, is a return to her pre-2000, smooth jazz days.




LP: ETP-90060 (side one: 7 songs, side two: 8 songs)
LP: YDD8101 (5 songs); CD: YCD8301 (6 songs)
LP: C25R0092 (side one: 4 songs, side two: 4 songs); CD: D32R0015
  • Bourbonsuite (Canyon Records, 1982)
LP: C25R0103 (side one: 5 songs, side two: 5 songs)
  • MUSITOPIA (Canyon Records, 1983)
LP: C25R0110 (side one: 4 songs, side two: 5 songs); CD: D35R0008
  • MUSOU TOSHI (Canyon Records, 1984)
LP: C25R0126 (side one: 4 songs, side two: 5 songs)
  • Lensman TV Series soundtrack (Canyon Records, 1984)
LP: C28A0391 (side one: 8 songs, side two: 9 songs)
  • COSMOS THE BEST – (Canyon Records, 1985, compilation of COSMOS songs)
CD: D32R0039 (14 songs)
  • Session V (Yamaha R&D Studios, 1985)
CD: YCD8501 (12 songs)
  • Keiko Project (Canyon Records, 1985, compositions of Keiko Doi from earlier COSMOS albums)
LP: C18A0434 (side one: 2 songs, side two: 2 songs) highly unusual, all songs have vocals.

Solo releases[edit]

  • A Drop of Water (Passport, 1987, rereleased in 1993 & 2003, with one bonus track added each time)
  • Under Northern Lights (MCA, 1989)
  • No Borders (MCA, 1990)
  • Night Waltz (Sin-Drome, 1991)
  • Cherry Blossom (White Cat, 1992)
  • Doll (White Cat, 1994)
  • Sapphire (White Cat, 1995)
  • Dream Walk (Countdown, 1996)
  • A Gift of Hope (Unity, 1997)
  • Keiko Matsui Collection (GRP, 1997)
  • Full Moon and the Shrine (Countdown, 1998)
  • Keiko Matsui Live (Countdown, 1999)
  • Best Selection (Pione, 1999)
  • Whisper from the Mirror (Countdown, 2000)
  • Glance of the Past (Countdown, 2001)
  • The Wind and the Wolf (Pione, 2000)
  • Hidamari no Ki (2000) anime soundtrack (Planet Joy 2002)
  • Deep Blue (Narada, 2001)
  • A Gift of Life (Narada, 2001)
  • The Ring (Narada, 2002)
  • Live in Tokyo (Sony/Columbia, 2002)
  • Spring Selection (Sony/Columbia, 2003)
  • The Piano (Narada, 2003)
  • White Owl (Narada, 2003)
  • Wildflower (Narada, 2004)
  • The Very Best of Keiko Matsui (GRP, 2004)
  • Summer Selection (Sony/Columbia, 2004)
  • Walls of Akendora (Narada, 2005)
  • Moyo (Heart & Soul) (Shout! Factory, 2007)
  • The Road... (Shanachie, 2011)
  • Soul Quest (Shanachie, 2013)
  • Live in Tokyo (Shanachie, 2015)
  • Journey to the Heart (Shanachie, 2016)

Duet releases[edit]

Guest appearances[edit]

  • Mariko Tone – Just My Tone (1987)
  • Akira Asakura – Spread Colors
  • Kazu Matsui – Tribal Mozart (Countdown, 1997)
  • Kazu Matsui – Tribal Shubert (Countdown, 1999)
  • Bob James – Dancing on the Water (Warner Brothers/WEA, 2000)
  • Kazu Matsui – Tribal Beethoven (Planet Joy, 2001)
  • Jason Miles – Miles to Miles (Narada, 2005)

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • Smooth Jazz V98.7 FM – Vol. 3 (label and release date unknown; released by radio station WVMV-FM, Detroit)
  • All That Jazz III (GRP Records, release date unknown)
  • KMJZ Smooth Jazz Sampler Volume 1 (KMJZ, release date unknown)
  • 20 Years of Narada Piano
  • New Age Music & New Sounds Vol. 67 – "Liberty"
  • KWJZ Smooth Jazz Sampler Volume 2 (KWJZ, release date 1994)


  • Bridge over the Stars
  • Full Moon and the Shrine
  • Light Above the Trees (Winstar, 1998)
  • The Jazz Channel Presents Keiko Matsui (Image Entertainment, 2001) DVD
  • White Owl (Narada, 2003) DVD included with the White Owl CD; concert at Bunkamura Orchard Hall (Tokyo, 2002)
  • Walls of Akendora bonus DVD included with the music CD; 9 songs with track 10 a home movie of being on the road (2004)
  • Live in Tokyo (CD and DVD ) (Shanachie, 2015)


  • Compositions (2005) – Sheet music for ten of Matsui's favorite songs, plus two more bonus songs, with instructional CD. Out of stock with retailers since before 2006, but available at her music engagements and perhaps elsewhere.


External links[edit]