A Lifetime of Jazz Appreciation: Kiyoshi Koyama

Although clichés about Japanese fans’ appreciation for all sorts of Jazz are legion, 82-year-old Tokyo-based Kiyoshi Koyama has done more than most in spreading the word. He’s been an important presence through most of the county’s post Second World War scene. In this article, Koyama tells Japan Times’ Katherine Whatley how despite having an English degree – his thesis was on the presence of the word “jazz” in American literature –  he has always worked in all aspects of the country’s Jazz scene. That included organizing coffee house listening sessions, writing for Japan’s major music publications, putting together historical box sets of recordings and hosting a weekly national Jazz radio program,. Along the way he famously interviewed saxophonist John Coltrane about spirituality and welcomed  saxophonist Ornette Coleman to his home for sushi. Someone who visited New York annually to check out spots like drummer Rashied Ali’s legendary club, he continues to keep up with cutting edge in Jazz.