Berks Jazz Fest 2014: Keiko Matsui & Reading Pops Orchestra

Sunday afternoon at 3pm, Keiko Matsui and the Reading Pops Orchestra appeared at the Miller Center for the Arts, and we were in for a special treat, hearing her music with a full orchestra. They kicked off the show with "Dream Seeker", just featuring the band without the orchestra, on bass was Rico Belled, on drums Dave Karasony, on guitar Austin Kruczek and on sax Jackiem Joyner (who has been touring with her for the past 8 years). Keiko Matsui wore a long red dress and looked beautiful as always at the grand piano. Next was "Black Lion", followed by "Soul Quest" and "A Night With Cha Cha". Then conductor Willis M. Rapp entered the stage and the service of the orchestra was employed for the rest of the evening, bringing Keiko Matsui's music to a whole different sphere. "The First Four Years", "The Road..." and "Bridge Over Stars" were done beautifully with the support of the orchesta, another highlight was "Forever, Forever", beautifully done solo on the grand piano, crossing Jim Brickman territory. All the musicians joined in for "Bohemian Concerto", followed by "An Evening In Gibraltar" from the Moyo album, before finishing her concert with "Antarctica (A Call To Action)". She returned for one encore, "Deep Blue", which marked the highlight of the whole concert for me, because it featured just her on the grand piano and the full orchestra, providing a real classical feeling and some nice interaction between her expressive piano playing and the orchestra. This was a truly remarkable show.