Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Yamaguchi, Masaya

Yamaguchi, Masaya, guitarist, educator, author; b. Nagano, Japan, 18 July 1970. Masaya was born as a second son in Nagano at birth and bred in Tokyo, Japan. He started playing the guitar around 14-16 in rock/pops style. He felt interested in jazz by a TV commercial [of Suntory, Japan's renowned distiller], which featured the jazz bassist, Ronald Carter. After that, he made his first purchase of a traditional "4-beat" jazz album, which was John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." At the age of 20, Masaya changed his guitar style completely into jazz under the influence of John Coltrane. He developed his own guitar style by inventing the perfect 4th tuning (E, A, D, G, C, F- from the bottom to the top). He also began to explore all the possible scale formations in twelve tones while majoring in English at Meikai University, Chiba, Japan (B.A. 1994). At the age of 26, he decided to study in the jazz program at the City College of New York where his idolized figure, Ron Carter directed. During his college years, he performed with Chico O'Farrill's son, Arturo O'Farrill in graduate jazz ensemble, whereas he was tormented by tendonitis and unhappiness with some of his studies, and professionally began to transcribe the recorded performances by John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, George Benson, etc. In 1999, Masaya became the first native Japanese who completed their Master program in jazz performance from the City College of New York (M.A. 1999).

Yamaguchi is not only a musician but also a conceptualist who established his own system to explore the imaginative formation of musical scales by "The Complete Thesaurus of Musical Scales." The concept is revealed in many of his writings and compositions. He remains active as an author, guitarist, transcriber, translator, and educator in and around New York City.

Works by Yamaguchi:
The Complete Thesaurus of Musical Scales (Charles Colin Music Publications, 2000)
Symmetrical Scales for Jazz Improvisation (Charles Colin Music Publications, 2001)
The Pentatonicism in Jazz: Creative Aspects and Practice (Charles Colin Music Publications, 2002)
John Coltrane Plays Coltrane Changes (Hal Leonard Corporation, March 2003)
"Note Groups of Limited Transposition: A Key to Unlocking Multitonic Change Possibilities," Down Beat, September 2000.
A Creative Approach to Multi-Tonic Changes: Beyond Coltrane's Harmonic Formula, <Edited by Jason Sweet, Henry Martin> Annual Review of Jazz Studies 12, 2003

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