Pianist Michiyo Matsushita’s Sally Gardens is a lively solo piano album featuring original compositions set against a few Irish folk songs and jazz standards.

Through the rich, evocative style of folk music (“Sally Gardens”, “Paddy Ryan’s Dream”), Matsushita’s playing is sweet and comforting, enhanced with fascinating reharmonizations and arrangements. The two jazz standards (“Liza”, “Segment”) impressively show various sides of Matsushita’s jazz playing, with elements of classical, bebop, stride, and other facets of piano surfacing in exciting contrasts.

Apart from the lovely folk tunes and jazzy moments, over half of the songs on Sally Gardens are original compositions from Matsushita, where she gracefully combines jazz with poppy catchiness and emotional drama. Her solo playing shines on uplifting, magical performances (“Infinity”, “Soratobu Usagi”), and also during soothing moments of softly sweet playing on ballads (“Kodou”, “Arigatou.”). As an extra bonus, on “Aki No Sora” (an album highlight), Matsushita plays a breath-powered Melodion with her piano accompaniment, creating a spirited duet sound to striking effect on this excitingly propulsive tune.

Sally Gardens by Michiyo Matsushita

Released in 2018 on Michiyo Matsushita as Sally Gardens.

Japanese Names: Michiyo Matsushita 松下美千代

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Oct 25, 2018 (Updated Nov 23, 2021)