B’z Matsumoto bags pop Grammy

Pianists Uchida, Uehara also shine in instrumental limelight

LOS ANGELES (Kyodo) Guitarist Takahiro Matsumoto of the popular Japanese rock duo B’z won the best pop instrumental album award Sunday at the Grammys for “Take Your Pick.”

Japanese classical pianist Mitsuko Uchida was also awarded a Grammy, winning best instrumental soloist performance with orchestra, while the best contemporary jazz album award went to the Stanley Clarke Band, which includes Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara.

Matsumoto, 49, said, “I had never told anyone until now, but the Grammys was one of my dreams and a big goal.”

His album, created in collaboration with American jazz fusion guitarist Larry Carlton, includes 12 songs, with each playing six apiece.

“Larry Carlton and I performed freely and got along well, and I was reminded of how good the harmonies of guitars feel,” Matsumoto said.

He debuted in 1988 as a member of B’z along with vocalist Koshi Inaba, and the duo have released a series of hits and sold more than 44 million albums, a record unrivaled by any other artist in Japan.

The band was inducted into Hollywood’s Rockwalk in 2007 for its contribution to the development of the music world.

Uchida, 62, was honored for her recordings of Mozart’s piano concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra. “Receiving this award gives me special joy, as I have worked with them (Cleveland Orchestra) for a long time,” she said.

Uehara, 31, said, “As a member, I am very honored to have received the Grammy award.”

In addition, koto player Yukiko Matsuyama, who joined the Paul Winter Consort’s “Miho: Journey to the Mountain,” received the best new age album award.

Kent Nagano, a Japanese-American music director for the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, won the best opera recording award. He has served as maestro Seiji Ozawa’s assistant conductor in the past and won the same award in 1995 and 2001.