Will Ackerman

Grammy-Winning Guitarist, Producer, Founder of Windham Hill Records

...on Piano Sanctuary

“From the first note I heard from Masako in 2011, I knew we were experiencing a musician we would be moved and inspired by. Over three CDs she has grown as a composer and player who never ceases to enthrall and amaze us. With her latest release, Piano Sanctuary, we are hearing the ongoing evolution of one of the most exciting and talented pianists in the Contemporary Instrumental and New Age genres.”



"I was astounded to be present as Masako offered many performances so flawless that it required only a single take without edit to realize the pieces; performances of such quality that are so rare as to be nearly mythical. That such perfection and such depth of emotion coexist in her work is the holy grail of recording and production for me.

Masako doesn’t sound like anyone else in the world. Her style is uniquely her own. People use the term 'unique' far too freely, but in Masako's case the term is dramatically accurate. Two notes of B.B. King will tell me who I'm listening to and the same is true of Masako's composition and playing.

Her timing is breathtaking and the dance between her left and right hands is unlike anything I've ever encountered. There is never any sense of her music becoming academic or emotionally compromised even with these prodigious skills. Hers is some of the very finest work I've heard in my career..."

Liz Story

Pianist & Composer, Multiple Grammy Award Nominee

"This music asks to be listend to many times. A trurly inspiring experience. Masako's wonderful musical skills travel with an invigorating peaceful the opportunity to observe a clear night sky full of stars."

Steve Sheppard

One World Music

...on Piano Sanctuary

"I had the delight of coming into the world of Masako in 2012, a year of many changes; her music then calmed the soul and brought a new focus to my life. The changes have constantly rang out for me over the past 6 years and in 2018 Masako’s latest release now plays its gentle refrains into my heart and soul, so why not join me on this new musical sojourn, through the works of Piano Sanctuary."

...on Call of the Mountains

"Just what the Solo Piano genre needed; here we have an album jam packed to the top with total class and creativity, an album superbly produced by Ackerman and Eaton to such a fine album that will move you, bring you peace and liberate album that I would personally recommend for you to place in your musical collection."

Kathy Parsons

...on Underwater Whisperer

"There are many really good pianists in the new age and contemporary classical genres, but Masako is one of a handful of artists who really stands out from the others. Whether playing solo or with other artists, Masako imbues her music with simple grace and truth."

...on Piano Sanctuary

"Masako’s third album is solo piano at its very best. A lyrical, graceful and very expressive blending of classical, new age and smooth jazz stylings, Piano Sanctuary provides a warm and soothing escape from the craziness of our contemporary world. "

...on Call of the Mountains

"There are many self-taught musicians whose work I dearly love, but when an artist such as Masako steps in with a lifetime of rigorous training, there is a palpable difference and often, at least for me, a much bigger “WOW!” factor. It has nothing to do with showmanship or playing speed (usually), but the effortless command of the instrument to successfully convey whatever that artist seeks to express." (Read the whole review

...on Masako

"Her fluid, graceful touch and ability to become one with her instrument set her apart from many pianists, and her original compositions offer a truly unique musical voice that is strong and assured, yet gentle and soothing." (Read the whole review

Clidk here for an extended interview of Masako by Kathy Parsons

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

New Age Music Reviews

...on Underwater Whisperer

“The entire album delivers on the promise of tranquility and a meditative or contemplative state of consciousness. Two tracks in particular were my favorites. “Sea Pearls” is 7 minutes and 20 seconds of pure piano bliss. And “The Deep” a step away from the norm, a very different, atmospheric ambient haunting track, as she puts aside the acoustic keys and opts for the electric sound and the perfected vocals of Noah Wilding. I loved it because it is outside of the comfort zone if you will of the rest of the album. Masako takes a chance and comes out the other end triumphantly…

The piano alone can say a lot but when you add the cello, flute, Chapman Stick, wind synthesizer (an interesting instrument), and percussion it is like a small orchestra adding layers to the one layer of piano. Together as one it can mesmerize and send you to dreamland within one track.”

...on Piano Sanctuary

”Masako’s music is different than any other instrumental solo piano music I have heard. She creates a wonderful new age sound that could be compared to others in the genre but it is distinct and her own as well. It will all make sense once you listen.

With Piano Sanctuary, an aptly titled project by the way, she takes you on a course of enlightenment through 12 tracks. Her clarity and fluidity on the ivory keys is an awesome thing to listen to.

What strikes me the most about this music is that each track is very melodic and full of warm textures and rhythms. Every bit of it comes from deep within the soul of a true artist.

John P. Olsen

...on MASAKO

"Composing pianist Masako has released an extraordinary instrumental album with every hallmark of a seasoned professional. Will Ackerman produced this album at Imaginary Road Studios, but needless to say, a producer can only enhance by bringing out the best of an artist's talents. It's clear Masako herself gives a magnificent performance, and her arrangement design of piano with instrumental music deserves to be characterized as a world-class release." (Read the whole review)

Dick Metcalf

Improvijazzation Nation 

...on Piano Sanctuary

"I’ve reviewed Masako’s work many times before...her growth as an artist over the three albums she has put together at Will Ackerman’s studios is abundantly evident on this new release. Masako’s own musical (and listening) background is very diverse, and she doesn’t “pigeonhole” herself into any one genre… "

...on Call of the Mountains

"very expressive and insightful particularly on tunes like Bigfoot Forest , her careful use of full-blown chords to expand the vibrancy of the compositions is especially effective... My personal favorite was the strident, yet beautiful Purple Indulgence. You can see the pictures she paints for you quite clearly. (The strings are stunning)..." (Read the full CD Review)

...on MASAKO

"Simple yet elegant to her approach to the keyboards...This is one of those musical adventures you'll keep close to your heart (and your ears) for months (years, even) to come...The rich chords and enticing violin on 'A Tale of Lonely Otter' made it my favorite..." (Read the full CD Review)

Serge Kozlovsky

"What is music? This is the path to reconnect the lonely beings... The music of Masako is filled with divine harmonics and a lot of subtle nuances. It streams straight from the artist’s heart without falsehood and unnecessary embellishment. These are just the pure emotions which the performer lets flow easily. And they convey the yearnings and emotional experiences of the artist’s essence. Therefore, this music is very intimate. ”

...on Call of the Mountains

"...just listen to this music and it will lead you into uncharted territory, where unbelievable beauty lives...One can say that Masako becomes not just one more star, but the leader in the new age music genre. ..“Call of the Mountains” will be gourmet food for any new age and contemporary instrumental music lovers."

...on MASAKO

"Masako brightly continues the musical tradition of the great Windham Hill artists such as William Ackerman, George Winston, Michael Hedges, Liz Story, Shadowfax, to name a few. But the pianist has her own distinct style which makes the heart stopping sounds of piano, fall like the warm summer rain on the tired head. And it is not necessary to think, just listen to this healing music to empathize with it."

Bill Binkelman

Zone Music Reporter/Retail Insight magazine

…on Underwater Whisperer

Pianist Masako's fourth album, Underwater Whisperer, underscores her individual style of instrumental piano music as well as her abundant talent, whether soloing or in an ensemble setting. As befitting the title, the music has a flowing quality to it, whether the tempo is serene or playful. Masako is equally adept at instilling a somber, reflective mood or a whimsical, cheery one. At times, she flirts with minimalism, but her music always radiates warmth and sincerity. Masako tends to have a light touch on the ivories which lends a soothing tone to each of the eleven tracks. Even faster tempo songs continue the overall fluid feel of the music. Joined on assorted tracks by high caliber artists Eugene Friesen (cello), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Jeff Pearce (Chapman stick), Premik Russel Tubbs (alto flute, ewi), Noah Wilding (vocals), and Tom Eaton (bass), Masako exudes unselfishness, allowing her esteemed guests to share the spotlight. Produced by the Will Ackerman, Eaton, and the artist herself, and featuring all original compositions by Masako, Underwater Whisperer showcases one of the top-flight pianists in contemporary instrumental music recording today.”

...on MASAKO

"Ackerman has once again unearthed an exceptional talent... Masako's music draws accurate comparisons to the glory days of Ackerman's Windham Hill label (as well as competitor Narada). Her sensitivity, control of nuance and shading, and her quasi-minimalist style (not as minimal as George Winston, but certainly in the same ballpark at times) won me over on the first track, the solo piano number, Glastenbury, VT..."

R J Lannan

Zone Music Reporter

...on MASAKO

"... for a freshman enterprise, this album has quite a bit of polish and self-confidence that I would have expected from a much more experienced composer. That tells me that there is an opportunity to achieve a powerful musical presence from this artist..."

BT Fasmer

New Age Stars Radio

"Don't you just love music that almost instantly enters your heart and soul, that from the very first note seems to connect with you? One such album for me is Masako ...It is not unusual for professional artists to release great albums when they for the first time go solo. But Masako is a very strong first release, even in this context..."
(Read the full CD Review)

Donovan Johnson

Enlightened Piano Radio

"Masako finds that perfect balance between the simple and the complicated, and the listener is able to sit right in the 'pocket' of the music, drift away, and take a journey with her... very hypnotic and engaging, prompting you to listen over and over again. "

Dave Butler

Producer & Host of the Inner Visions Syndicated Radio show and Program Director for Got Radio's Piano Perfect and New Age Nuance Channels

"Masako has an extremely flowing style that relaxes the listener and at the same time allows for introspection from within making her music the perfect environment for any time of day, mood or situation.  It's a delight to listen to.  All it took was a few moments of listening to know that Masako's touch on the keys will carry her far. Just listen and you'll see..."

Michael Diamond

Music Editor, Awareness Magazine

...on Call of the Mountains

"Throughout the album, Masako’s music is painted from a diverse palate of emotions, from the lightest pastels to more deeply saturated hues. Although she is quite capable of dazzling the listener with her formidable skills on the piano, she often chooses to let the melody and the accompanying emotion it is imbued with be the focus." (Read the full CD review

...on Masako

"Masako is a gem reflecting diverse facets that sparkle with musical light..."

Dana Wright

...on Call of the Mountains

"...lush theatrical depictions of the Northeast Mountains in the United States fill the listener with love and appreciation for the beauty that is all around if people would only open their eyes and ears to listen…a heartrending audio experience...From serene and flowing harmonies to elaborate climbs in sound and texture, she has crafted a sampler of elegantly sculpted notes." (Read the full CD review

...on MASAKO

"Fluid as water and as bendable as a willow tree, each piece on her debut albumMASAKO is a breath of audible bliss...Masako crafts compositions that are remarkably flawless, impeccably timed and a unique blend of classic and contemporary style influenced in part by her Japanese heritage.... " (Read the full CD review)

Raj Manoharan

...on Call of the Mountains

"...with this offering, Masako proves herself worthy of the echelon of preeminent pianists such as David Lanz, Jim Brickman, and Liz Story. I even hear a little bit of Bruce Hornsby in her compositional and playing style...a flawless disc from beginning to end, with one beautiful and mesmerizing piece after another. As they say, the hits just keep on coming...without a doubt one of the best piano-based albums out there."

...on MASAKO

"On her self-titled review, Masako proves herself to be a classy and elegant composer with an ear for music and a golden touch on the keyboard..." 

Collin Kelley

Awards-Winning Poet & Novelist

...on MASAKO

"There's a wistfulness and melancholy about the album, especially on tracks like 'Forgotten Memories,' 'A Tale of Lonely Otter' and the two-part cycle called 'Remembrance.' It's almost like the soundtrack for an unmade film. Elsewhere, there are more uplifting tracks like 'The Secret Path to Point Reyes Part 2,' which transports you to a sun-dappled walk to the beach, and the spirited 'Ottauquechee River.' 'Moon and Stream' is a gorgeous lullaby, while 'Glastenbury, VT' is simply jazzy and cool – the soundtrack to a snowy winter day with a glass of wine and a good book (watch the video below). ..They are, in a word, elegant. There's nothing fussy here – just simple, emotionally- driven music designed to take you out of your own world for an hour. Take the journey."

Toshiharu Minagawa

...on Call of the Mountains