An Evening with Keiko Matsui at the Aratani

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Jazz superstar pianist Keiko Matsui returns to perform with David Benoit and the Asia America Youth Symphony Orchestra on Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

Matsui, whose new album, “Journey to the Heart,” is on the top of the sales and airplay charts, will be joined by Benoit for a special two-piano grand finale. The concert also features works by Ravel, Benoit, and others.

Reserved seats: $55 (premier), $40 (preferred), $25 (general), $15 (students with ID). Call the AASA office at (310) 377-8977 or go online to www.AASymphony.org or www.jaccc.org.

“My melodies are my living testimony,” declares Matsui. “Music creates a oneness. ‘Journey to the Heart’ is my gift to my fans. I want to deliver the most beautiful and emotional experience. I feel the world is getting crazier and we need to collectively go back and recall what connects us all…our spirits, hearts and our souls.

“We need to find that common bond in our hearts. People are dying with violence, hunger and war. This music is my new journey. It is an evolution in many ways. I hope I can make a path and make some noise and leave a positive effect on the world. This is my mission and I am dedicating my music to this cause.”

Matsui has worked alongside everyone from Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder to Hugh Masekela and Bob James. She has also lent her voice to raise awareness for such causes as the Daniel Pearl and the Susan G. Komen foundations.

“Journey to the Heart,” her 27th recording as a leader, marks the 30th anniversary since her recording debut. Helping her to reinvigorate her sound and new acoustic direction are two Cuban musicians, bassist Carlitos Del Puerto and drummer Jimmy Branly.

“Carlitos and Jimmy are amazing musicians,” says Matsui. “I admire their artistry, musicianship and spirituality. They are my new family on the road and they bring such a sensitivity and passion to every situation.”

Peruvian guitarist Ramon Stagnero and Venezuelan percussionist Luis Quintero also join Matsui along with special guest harmonica player Gregoire Maret and a string section that augments several of the album’s tracks.

“Melodies are an important part of my music and the melodies on ‘Journey to the Heart’ seemed to come from another dimension,” Matsui adds. “There is a different energy. I was even amazed myself at just how bright and happy the music is. It does reflect where I am right now.”

She conceived over 100 different melodies and motifs for the CD and eventually settled on the ten themes that are featured. During the initial stages of writing she collected melodies, wrote charts and began recording on her iPhone and a small recorder everywhere she went.

Matsui took her first piano lesson at age 5 and made her U.S. recording debut in 1987 with the recording “A Drop of Water.”

For more information, visit www.keikomatsui.com.

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