By Yui Yamazaki/Kyodo News
ÖSAKA — The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized a Japanese jazz trio as the band with the oldest average age: 83 years.
The members of the group, Golden Senior Trio, live in the Kansai region of Japan. They are vibraphonist Naoteru Nabeshima, pianist Zensho Otsuka and bassist Naosuke Miyamoto.
Each of the musicians had their own separate groups. They formed the trio in 2008 in response to calls from their fans.
In order to be considered for the Guinness record, the band had to show proof that they had played more than 20 gigs in five years. The official thumbs-up from Guinness came last July.
According to Guinness World Records, a group from China held the previous record at 76 years.
Naoteru Nabeshima, the oldest member at 89, hails from musical lineage. His parents were classical musicians — his father was a violinist and his mother a pianist.
Nabeshima maintained his passion for music even during World War II, when Japanese people were prohibited from playing Western music. Nabeshima, who was in the Navy at the time, said he would stare at musical scores so he would not forget how to play.
He was introduced to the vibraphone after the war by American artist Emil Richards at a U.S. military base in Sendai. Despite strong opposition from his parents, Nabeshima decided to pursue a career in jazz music.
Otsuka, who, at 81 heads the Kansai Jazz Society, said he developed a good ear for music at a young age, thanks to his grandmother, a Christian, who practiced her hymns on an organ at home. While in high school in Ösaka, Otsuka composed a song that was selected as the school’s anthem, and remains so to this day.
Otsuka and 79-year-old Miyamoto met in a jazz cafe in Köbe around 1956. Miyamoto had been a talented bassist, even as a student. Nabeshima and Otsuka say don’t need a drummer because Miyamoto’s bass rhythm is reliable.
The group, whose repertoire includes a jazz version of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Pathetique, says it straddles genres. Nabeshima said he hopes also to “express the beauty of melodies of old Japanese music through jazz.”