Japanese Postwar Jazz Pioneer Nobuo Hara Dies at 94

Society Culture

Tokyo, June 22 (Jiji Press)--Japanese jazz saxophonist Nobuo Hara, who was at the forefront of Japan's post-World War II jazz circle, died of pneumonia at a hospital in Tokyo on Monday evening. He was 94.

A native of the central Japan city of Toyama, Hara, whose real name was Nobuo Tsukahara, learned to play the saxophone in a military band of the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Navy.

Hara formed his band, Nobuo Hara and His Sharps & Flats, in 1951, inspired by top-class American big bands. The ensemble flourished as a pioneer in the history of early jazz in Japan.

In 1967, the outfit became the first Japanese band to appear at the annual Newport Jazz Festival, held in Newport in the U.S. state of Rhode Island, winning high praise. The band performed numerous times abroad.

The band accompanied renowned female Japanese singers Hibari Misora and Chiemi Eri, and performed in "NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen" (NHK Red and White Song Battle), a long-running television show featuring popular singers, aired every year by public broadcaster Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK, on New Year's Eve.

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