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Introduction to Jazz

And that was that, but about that time, been hearing music over the radio. I'd hear, once in a while Benny Goodman, and it was kind of new. But it's kind of so, sounded so neat to me, and it turned out to be -- turned out to be someone who played swing music. I don't know about the word "jazz," but it was, and especially I heard something, a quartet by Benny Goodman with Lionel Hampton on the vibes, Teddy Wilson on piano, Gene Krupa. That really moved me like, hey, this is neat. Isn't this neat?

It just moved me so much that I went to the music store and bought some wire brushes that, brushes used to play on the snare drum, and just found me a little box. And I'd just play on it with Benny Goodman. That was so cool. [Laughs] And I'd play up loud, right, and Mom would say, "Hey, cut it out, Joji. Yakamashii." So noisy. "Okay, Mom, okay, Mom." And I really enjoyed that. That was my introduction to jazz again, and that really started something that lasted the rest of my life until today.


families jazz music

Date: February 18, 2002

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Alice Ito, John Pai

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

George Yoshida was born in 1922 in Seattle, WA. Prior to World War II, his family moved to East Los Angeles, CA in 1936. Yoshida was incarcerated in Poston, AZ during the war. Yoshida grew up around the Big Band sound and Swing music and while in camp formed a dance band called the “Music Makers” for which he played the drums. Through music, the internees tried their best to keep life as a normal as possible and forget that they were surrounded by barbed wire. In 1943, Yoshida was drafted into the U.S. Army. He married in 1945 and moved to Berkeley, CA where he taught at Washington Elementary School for the next 35 years.

After retiring from teaching in 1987, Yoshida’s started the J-Town Jazz Ensemble, a swing band of Nisei and Sansei musicians. He still plays the drums, but this time, Yoshida uses music to remember the history of Japanese Americans during a period of great hardship. Yoshida is also the author of a book, Reminiscing in Swingtime 1925-1960: Japanese Americans in American Popular Music. (April 15, 2008)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Spending time with children

(b.1926) Democratic politician and three-term Governor of Hawai'i

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Getting married

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Possibility of being adopted by aunt

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

First work in America (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Buying violin (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Little interaction with parents

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Gordon's parents' experience in prison

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Going back to Hawaii

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Clothes of plantation workers

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Surviving after father's death

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Washing for Filipino bachelors

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Brother leaves for war, survival

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Doing chores

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki
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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki

Wife's family in Japan

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

New Year's food

(b.1964) California-born business woman in Japan. A successor of her late grandmother, who started a beauty business in Japan.

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