Pity the critic. He has to undo all the false hype surrounding the poor artists who otherwise would have to labor under the burden of errant attributions. Promo lit claims Tak Matsumoto to be "the most renowned guitarist in all of Asia", a patently untrue arrogation on someone's part. Kazumi Watanabe and Masayoshi Takanaka, to name just two among many more, far exceed this guy…which is not to disparage him at all but only to remove what can only work against a guy who himself never made any such claim. In fact, as shown on Strings of my Soul, Matsumoto is a very lyrical player who often reaches for Jeff Beckian flash to get his outside contrasts. In terms of approach, Tak's more like Blonker and some of the obscurer Euro stringbenders who favored a measured and mostly upbeat style, very close to lite jazz if indeed not the thing itself…appropriately.
American whiz-bang Larry Carlton joins Matsumoto on one cut, the immortal Sukiyaki, and—now this is weird—monsterfingers guitarist Steve Vai sits in on another, the closer, Romeo & Juliet, but only to intone the introductory very short poem. Yep. Don't ask me why, I couldn't even begin to guess, but I dig that kind of eccentricity. And the cut itself is an adagio approach to the famed Rota song sounding like a combo of the old Ferrante & Teicher duo teamed with Gabor Szabo, more than once offset by lively interpositions. Neil Schon's sky-high solo New Agery even enters in as well for some vaulting interludes, but Strings of my Soul in whole is a mellow E-Z Listening gatherum designed to sooth the spirit and nerves after a tough day at the office and maddening freeway home.
[ADDENDUM: I am in this end note adding to the original review above and correcting the record. Takamoto is indeed QUITE a renowned musician in Asia, and his hard rock band B'z has sold over 80 million albums in Japan alone. Holy cow, if that doesn't earn the tag of 'renowned', then I don't know what does! This also puts the contrast to Strings of My Soul and illuminates the fuller spectrum of Tak's talents, demonstrating an artist who can tackle multiple modes with skill. It isn't often you find a blistering riff rocker settling comfortably into the softer side of things and pulling it off with such grace. So: hats off to reader George Tung, who took the time to point out what I and the promo literature had missed two years ago. Good 'un, George!!]
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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