One of the best things about music festivals and concerts is, of course, the opportunity to hear artists whose music you know you love. But perhaps equally great are the surprises — the performances by people you’ve never heard of, or may have heard and forgotten.

During one of our first experiences at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, we (and everyone else) were blown away by Japanese pianist Keiko Matsui. Joanna is a big piano fan, and Matsui’s songs often reflect a love of nature that we share.

Matsui’s song titles include “Under Northern Lights,” “Deep Blue,” “Gentle Sands,”  “Tears of the Ocean,” “Rainy Season,” “Flowers of the Sea” and many others with similar themes. (Those linked videos offer beautiful scenery, by the way and each is worth checking out.)

Her music brings together Eastern and Western influences in a beautiful and often dramatic way. We bought one of her albums soon after hearing her live, and have been fans ever since.

Considering the theme of this blog, Matsui’s song “Forever Forever” seems appropriate. You can see that video below, or see an entire Matsui concert here.