Bob James and Keiko Matsui's Altair & Vega is a solo piano album performed by a duo, and for the most part, that means what it sounds like, two jazz pianists seated together at one keyboard playing four-handed parts. On the James-composed title track (which refers to two stars that pass each other only once a year), previously recorded and released on the 2001 James album Dancing on the Water, Matsui takes the upper part of the piano and James the lower part in a piece that sounds more new age than jazz.
The Swedish trumpet-player Niklas Eklund, born in Göteborg (Gothenburg) in 1969, trained at the School of Music and Musicology of Göteborg University. Further studies took place under the tutelage of Edward H. Tarr at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. After five years as solo trumpet with the Basle Radio Symphony Orchestra, he left the orchestra in the autumn of 1996 to further his career as a soloist. Since then he has appeared with leading ensembles and conductors such as Zubin Metha, John Eliot Gardiner, Heinz Holliger, András Schiff, Robert King, Eric Ericson, Reinhard Goebel, Gustav Leonhardt, the London Baroque, the Bach Ensemble (New York), the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble and the English Baroque Soloists. In 1996 he was the first-prize winner of the first Altenburg International Baroque Trumpet Competition, in Bad Säckingen. He participated in Sir John Eliot Gardner’s Bach Pilgrimage performances and recordings in 2000, appearing in concerts throughout the world.