Yoshiaki Masuo
Bio & Discography
Life Is Good
About "Life Is Good"
I'm Glad There Is You
About "I'm Glad There Is You"
About Sunshine
Ave. Label
Back to Sunshine

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Guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo was born in 1946 in Tokyo, Japan. Without formal instruction, and listening to his father's record collections, Masuo taught himself to play the guitar, influenced heavily by the sounds of Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel who were his favorites. His father was a jazz pioneer in Japan on piano, organ and as a big band leader. Some of Masuo’s first memories of live jazz were from his trips to his father’s gigs at the American military bases.

Attending college at Waseda University in 1965, he joined the university jazz club where he was quickly discovered by Japan's top saxophonist, Sadao Watanabe, who took Masuo under his wing and into his group. The group hurtled Masuo to popularity and in it, he toured Japan many times over, recording albums with them and playing on Sadao's weekly radio show.

In 1969, Masuo won the honor of "best jazz guitarist" in the annual Swing Journal musician's poll, a position he held for many years. His first solo album, "Winds of Barcelona" was released that same year on the CBS-SONY label, and by 1970, he was touring Europe and the United States with the Watanabe group, leaving Japan for the first time and playing at the Montreux and Newport jazz festivals.

When Watanabe's group disbanded at the end of 1970, Masuo took what he thought would be a six month trip to New York City. He soon found himself in the middle of the jazz scene there, playing with musicians Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Lenny White, and Mike Brecker. Masuo recorded on Jones' "Merry Go Round" album, and went on to play with Lee Konitz in 1972. In the spring of '73, he became a regular member of the Sonny Rollins band and in his six year association with Rollins (three years at this time), he toured extensively in the U.S., Europe and Japan and recorded on three of Rollins' albums; "Horn Culture", "Cutting Edge", and "Sonny Rollins Live in Japan". Reviews of the Rollins concerts often singled out Masuo's guitar work. A review in a London newspaper referred to "Yoshiaki Masuo, whose jazz guitar would make an evening memorable even without the redoubtable Rollins" and a High Fidelity review of the recording of the Montreux Festival concert ("The Cutting Edge") spoke of "Guitarist Masuo's charging, churning solos that are highlights of Rollins' club performances."

Masuo recorded "111 Sullivan Street" in 1975, with the (at the time) Sonny Rollins rhythm section of Bob Cranshaw (bass) and David Lee (drums). This was his first lead album since coming to the U.S..
In '78, he formed his own electric fusion group (the Animal House Band) recording six highly successful albums on the Electric Bird label, three of which won awards. He toured extensively with this group inviting Jan Hammer as special guest in 1980.
In 1982 Masuo rejoined Rollins’ band for another three years, playing the memorable Town Hall/Beacon Theater concert and playing on Sonny's "Reel Life" album.

After acquiring a recording studio (“The Studio) in New York City’s Soho area and having made a mark in the international jazz world, Masuo began to help record some of New York City's young and most promising jazz musicians. He formed the JazzCity (1987) and JazzCity Spirit (1993) labels, producing nearly 300 CDs over the next 20 years, contributing much to the U.S. and Japanese jazz scenes. During this time, although he was not performing on the club scene, Masuo continued to record his own albums ("Masuo"- 1989, "Acoustic Duo" – 1990 and "A Subtle One" - 1991 with musicians Kenny Kirkland, Ron Carter, and Al Foster among others). "Just Like Old Times", a reunion album with Sadao Watanabe, was released in 1993.

In the spring of '97, Masuo had the honor of performing at Washington DC's Kennedy Center for the Three Generations of Japanese Jazz All Stars concert, along with groups like Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin. His career continues as a producer, writer and recently as a performer again, delighting his many fans who have missed hearing his music live. His album, "Are You Happy Now" with Larry Goldings (organ) and Lenny White (drums) was released on the Sunnyside label in the U.S. and Europe, and the Omagatoki label in Japan in 1998. A reviewer wrote of the release, "Masuo has emerged with this enjoyable date to re-establish himself as a premier jazz guitarist in the modern mainstream". (Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide)

"Life is Good" (2008), the first album on Masuo's Sunshine Ave. Label bears Masuo's signature crossover style, weaving the worlds of folk, pop, and classical with straight ahead jazz.

"I'm Glad There is You", his latest duo endeavor with premier pianist Bill Mays is also available on the Sunshine Ave. Label.


Winds of Barcelona (CBS-SONY SONP-50069-J, 1969)

24 (CBS-SONY SOPC-57103-J, 1970)

111 Sullivan Street (East Wind EW-8020, 1975)

Sailing Wonder (Electric Bird SKS--8001, 1978) Backed by
Eric Gale, Dave Grusin, Richard Tee, Gordon Edwards, and Steve

Sunshine Avenue (Electric Bird SKS-8005, 1979)

Good Morning (Electric Bird SKS-8013, 1979)

Masuo Live (Electric Bird SKS-8017, 1980)

The Song is You and Me (Electric Bird K28P-6043, 1980)

Finger Dancing/ Yoshiaki Masuo with Jan Hammer (Electric Bird
K28P-6071, 1981)

Mellow Focus (Polystar 28P-29, 1982)

Masuo (EPIC-SONY 28.8P-5246, 1989)

Acoustic Duo/Lush Life-Billy-Tokyo/ Yoshiaki Masuo & Tsutomu Okada (Agharta
PCCY-00126, 1990)

A Subtle One (JazzCity PCCY-00292, 1991)

Just Like Old Times/ Yoshiaki Masuo and J.A.B. Sounds
(JazzCity Spirit TKCA-70047, 1993) With Sadao Watanabe
Remix and re-release of Just Like Old Times (with bonus track) (2002)

Are You Happy Now/ Yoshiaki Masuo with Larry Goldings and
Lenny White (OMAGATOKI OMCZ-15, 1998)

Life is Good/ Yoshiaki Masuo with Larry Goldings and Lenny White (Sunshine Ave. Label – SUNL-1001, 2008)

I'm Glad There Is You/ Yoshiaki Masuo with Bill Mays
(Sunshine Ave. Label - SUNL-1003, 2009)

For Masuo's official fan website click HERE


For any questions or problems, please contact us at Sunshine Ave Label.