My wife and I arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo at around 1:00 p.m. We had to get to our hotel in Akasaka. We have never been to that area of Tokyo before. We took the underground trains and we had to change trains quite a few times. The gear and luggage we were carrying were really taking their toll. We shifted our luggage and gear up and down the staircases of underground tube stations no less than 10 times. By the time we got the Akasaka, we were just worn out. Finding the hotel took the best part of an hour. I literally collapsed into the bed of our hotel room. But there was no time for any rest, I was invited to play as a guest at the show of Soul Mates. As soon as Ding san and Wai san arrived at the hotel, we went to the live house Imagine for a sound check.
Imagine was a typical live house in Tokyo. Not a big place by any stretch of the imagination, but the place was comfortable and you can smell music in the air. The main act on the night was Soul Mates. The heart and soul of Soul Mates are Masa Oya san and Takatani san, both of whom are my long time friends. I first met Masa Oya san when I recorded my first Cd back in 1995. Masa Oya san is the director of the JVC/Victor Studio in Lake Yamanako in Tokyo. Maso Oya san soon introduced me to Takatani san when they came to Hong Kong. Masa Oya san and Takatani san are both gutiar players and both are fantastic players. Their easy-going manner and smiling faces belied the serious musicians they truly are.
I have rarely seen guitar players who can play so many different styles of music as Masa Oya san and Takatani san. And I have never seen any guitar players who are so good in playing so many different styles of music as Masa Oya san and Takatani san. They can play Blues, Rock, Jazz, Fusion Jazz, R&B, Funk, Spannish and just about any kind of music you can think of. In the last few years, both Masa Oya san and Takatani san play acoustic mainly. Soul Mates feature Masa Oya san playing acoustic guitatr with steel strings and Takatani san on nylon strings. The music interplay between the two is almost telepathic. Leaving aside the technical skills, it is simply enlightening to see how the two guitar players complement each other, play with each other and play against each other.
Masa Oya san
Masa Oya san released a recording in 1991 called "Memorial Momotombow":-
Takatani san released a recording in 1997 called "Takatani" :-
Soon after they formed Soul Mates and they Soul Mates released their debut recording in April 2003 simply called "Soul Mates" :-
Masa Oya san and Takatani san had played at 48th Street and the reception and response from the audience was tremendous. When I saw them at Imagine in Tokyo, their playing was breath-taking. Their skills, mastery of the guitar, showmanship and musicianship were truly awesome. The did a renditon of "Spain", and knocking the roof down. I was privliged to be invited to go on stage to play with these two great musicians who are now truly two of the best guitar players in Japan.