Musician and educator George Yoshida dies at 92

Incarcerated at Poston during World War II, he played saxophone in an internment camp jazz band

Sad news out of the Bay Area, where musician, educator and writer George Yoshida, best known for his passion for jazz and its unique connection with Japanese American history, died last week. He was 92.

Berkeley teacher-musician George Yoshida dies at 92

Born in Seattle and raised in Los Angeles, Yoshida and his family were interned at Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona, along with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II. Permitted to take only one suitcase, he packed his with records from his treasured jazz collection.

At Poston, he joined up with other young Nisei who shared his passion for jazz and swing, and played saxophone in a camp band, the Music Makers. Later, drawing from his love of music and his internment experience, he became an educator and author, and wrote the 1997 book Reminiscing in Swingtime: Japanese Americans in American Popular Music, 1920-1965.

In the early 1980s, Mark Izu and Ken Yamada interviewed George about his camp band experience, which sparked his interest in researching other camp bands that culminated in the publication of his book, “Reminiscing in Swingtime: Japanese Americans in American Popular Music, 1925-1960.” Published in 1997 by the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) in San Francisco, this seminal work is the primary reference on the subject and is included in college and university curricula.

Mr. Yoshida is survived by four children and many grandchildren, friends, relatives and students. Memorial services will be held in June. Rest in peace, George Yoshida. (Thanks, Lisa.)

More here: In Memoriam: Music Maker and Educator George Yoshida

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