ABOUT THE ALBUM
I recorded this album in March of 2009, at
my brand new “Kakinoki” studio. Bill Mays, had introduced
me to the area in 2001, where I eventually found a home and
built the studio. To record this - my second album for the Sunshine
Ave. Label - a duet was most convenient with Bill living just
five minutes away.
It goes without saying that I respect Bill
as a musician, but he’s also one of the people I respect
most as a human being. His devotion to music, always striving
to make himself a better musician, is an inspiration, but he
also manages to enjoy every day to the fullest. He says he learns
at least one new tune a week and practices it in every key.
There’s a lot I can learn from his way of living life.
My association with him goes back more than
twenty years, since the days of my JazzCity Label when I was
producing at my recording studio in New York. At that time,
he played on many of the projects, but it's only in the last
few years that I've been able to work with him as a musician.
He’s extraordinary - an amazing piano player, composer
and arranger, who can cover a wide range of musical styles with
equal dexterity and heart; and he's exceptionally easy to work
with, always putting 100 percent into everything he does. As
a producer, these things always made me think of how much I’d
like to play with him sometime. Through this recording, that
dream has come true.
When we started the recording, I didn’t
have specific ideas about what the music would be, so we mostly
recorded tunes that Bill brought in. They’re mainly standards,
but since I wasn’t familiar with most of them, they were
fresh to my ears and a real challenge. We played without much
planning. It was like playing a gig with someone for the first
time - really exciting playing as just a duo. I think this setting
took us to a place beyond our usual comfort zones to uncharted
territory. I know it did for me.
After finishing the recording, we toured in
Japan, and having that chance to grow and get to know each other
better musically, I feel we’re already on a different
level now, so I’m thinking of this CD as the Masuo/Mays
Project – volume 1.
About the Tunes
Since this album is as much Bill as it is me,
I wanted to include his thoughts and comments on the tunes along
1) I’m Glad There is You
We started this Jimmy Dorsey tune from the verse. Bill says
there are only two kinds of verses – good ones and bad
ones. This is a good one, and the tune has a really nice lyric
too. A true romantic, Bill recited it to his wife on their wedding
day. For this album, the title describes my feelings for Bill
2) Part Of The Deal
I wrote this tune in about five minutes while I was practicing
a few years ago. Bill thinks it sounds like a Sonny Clark tune.
3) People Time
This tune’s composer, alto saxophonist Benny Carter, is
one of Bill’s favorites. To me, it seems kind of continuous
and endless - a strange kind of wondrous tune. I really like
the relaxed tempo.
4) Chi Chi/ Sippin’ at Bells
When I heard an ensemble Bill plays with called the Inventions
Trio, playing Bill’s arrangement of Sippin’ at Bell’s
and Dance of the Infidels simultaneously, I really liked it
and thought Chi Chi would go well with Sippin’ too.
5) The Folks Who Live on the Hill
When I was playing with Sonny Rollins, along with Look For The
Silver Lining, this was my favorite tune. It has an interesting
form, with an odd number of measures in each section. In some
places, we’re using Bill's arrangement, with a different
harmony than the original.
6) Blue Daniel
Frank Rosolino, who wrote this tune, was one of the greatest
trombonists ever, and Bill was lucky enough to have had the
chance to play with him while living in Los Angeles. The version
of this tune I know is played by Cannonball Adderly’s
band. It’s a delightful, simple waltz with a repeat of
Bill wrote Madrugada a few years ago at around 5:30 in the morning
on the Island of St. Barts. The title means morning sunrise
in Portugese. A beautiful tune.
8) Wonder Why
Bill was introduced to this tune by Doug Ramsey, a music critic.
Doug’s friend, pianist Jack Brownlow, arranged the intro
and ending. This was a new tune, even for Bill.
This is one of Wayne Shorter’s classic pieces, made famous
when he was a member of the Miles Davis band. In contrast to
everything else on the album, this tune is less Beboppy –
more open, spacious and moody. Trading choruses wasn't planned,
it just happened that way, and felt more like a conversation
than a tune with individual solos.
10) Get Out of Town
Bill says this is one of Cole Porter’s hippest tunes.
It goes from minor to major and then back to minor and has very
daring interval jumps for a tune from that time period. It also
has a wonderful lyric that Bill sometimes sings.
11) Young and Foolish
I had never heard this tune, but Bill says almost everyone's
recorded it. Because it’s been done so often, Bill brought
in a tricky reharmonized arrangement. He calls it a little harmonic
smoke-and-mirror play! I feel a Bill Evans/Jim Hall mood when
I listen to it.
Going from producing back to playing in 2008,
I spent a lot of time touring in 2009, and feel I’m now
back once again, to being a working musician. I want to thank
all the fans who have come out to listen, and the friends and
club owners who have given me the chance to perform again. For
them as well, the title of this album, “I’m Glad
There Is You”, is especially appropriate now.