East Meets West Brunch: Erika Matsuo Sextet – Autumn Reflections –
Sunday, November 25 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Blue Note Jazz Club New York – 131 W. 3rd Street (between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street)
Admission: $39.50 (includes brunch, music, and a drink)
New York-based Japanese jazz singer Erika Matsuo returns to Blue Note Jazz Club for her seventh time, performing two brunch time sessions.
Matsuo burst onto the international jazz scene in 2010 with her self-produced album Obsession, a sensual sojourn through American, Brazilian, and original songs, which was hailed by AllAboutJazz as “a promising debut, beautifully produced and finely performed.” She previously self-produced a single, “Close My Eyes,” in 2007.
The Fukuoka native was a protégé of the great Sheila Jordan and studied classical piano as a child. While in her late teens, Matsuo joined an all-girl rock group, the Tear Drops, which won first prize in the Yamaha Teen Music Festival in May 1994. A chance meeting with jazz pianist Yusuke Hirado led to her an invitation to record and perform in New York as lead singer of his band. It was the beginning of her love affair with New York. Matsuo soon relocated, studying for a BFA in jazz voice at City College of New York and immersing herself in the city’s jazz scene, exploring everything from straight-ahead to Brazilian jazz.
After graduating from City College, where she was also awarded the prestigious Pro Musica award, which is given to graduating music majors for distinguished service to the cause of music at the college, Matsuo went on to win first prize in the highly prestigious Asakusa Jazz Contest in Japan and, in 2007, was featured in Coca Cola’s So-Ken-Bi Cha TV commercial, becoming one of the most recognized voices in Japan.
Based in New York, she has performed at many of the city’s top venues, including BB King, Sweet Rhythm, the Kitano, S.O.B.’s and the Blue Note, and regularly tours Japan.
In March of 2012, she did a guest performance for Monday Michiru at the Long Island Jazz Festival. She followed up this to be featured for her “caressing vocals” on the acclaimed trumpeter from the Duke Ellington Orchestra, James Zollar’s 2013 album All Good People. Also in 2013, Erika released third album, True Colors, which was chosen by the prestigious Japanese jazz website Jazzpage.net as “Finest Vocal Album of 2013” and awarded her first place on the Jazz Page Readers Poll.
While back in Japan in August of 2015, Erika appeared on the popular national TV show Woman on the Planet and was featured on a recording session and a behind-the-scenes video with Japanese super model/celebrity Rola.
In 2017, Matsuo released her latest album, Reflections, on which she performs songs written for her by Monday Michiru and renowned jazz pianist Yusuke Hirado. More than 14 different musicians record with her on this album including Steve Wilson, David Gilmore, and Johnathan Blake. During the year, Erika did a few guest performances for Hirado’s new project “Yusuke Hirado Prospect.” In October 2017 she was named Lifetime Ambassador of Tourism in her native Miyama city, Fukuoka. She was also featured on the cover of the city Council Newsletter.
This year she performed at Rockwood Music Hall and invited Moday Michiru as a guest and she had another show with saxophonist Steve Wilson at Jazz at Kitano in August.
Lineup for Sunday’s performance at Blue Note:
Erika Matsuo – Vocals
Art Hirahara – Piano
Juancho Herrera – Guitar
Moto Fukushima – Bass
Keita Ogawa – Drums and Percussion
Jorge Continentino – Sax and Flute