Walls of Akendora is the latest release from keyboardist Keiko Matsui. It showcases her classical side as well as her jazz sense of flair. “Overture For The City” begins with a trumpet blast followed by a pulsating bass line that drives this opener to the piano of Matsui. This one's put together well and reminds me a lot of some of Mark Portman's work. It's one of the better songs on the disc. “Crystal Shadow” is a syncopated bass line that's laid down with piano and soprano sax casting the shadow. Keiko's playing is superb and plays like fine crystal in a musical setting. “Mountain Shakedown” is a repeat from a previous disc, but bodes well in the mix. “Canvas” is a mid-tempo number that rallies around the same theme and has its best jazz riffs of the whole disc. Matsui slows down the tempo somewhat for “Akendora's Clock.” This one beautifully shows off her composition skills as well as her ability at piano. It builds to a near crescendo before softly fading at the end.
“Walking Through It” will probably be a show stopper on her current tour. It has that unique blend of intrigue and magic that her fans have come to love over the years. “Blue Butterfly” is an insightful look through the eyes of her piano. “Gentle Sands” is another favorite of mine here. It skips along with a nice back beat, and is accompanied by some good soprano sax. The piano doesn't take the main stage here but is instead blended with the others for an uplifting experience. The title track is deep and dark. It's musically fit for a concert hall. With its sweeping suites and rousing orchestral movements, “Walls of Akendora” showcases Matsui's classical sense. The disc finishes with “ Bay of Destiny .” This seems much like the second movement to the previous song, and is layered with orchestra movements that showcase her piano. It comes back to a simple theme before closing the disc.
There's also a bonus DVD of Keiko's November 26, 2004 live performance at Bukamura Orchard Hall in Tokyo , Japan . With both the DVD and CD, this package should really make her fans quite happy.
- Harvey Cline