After more than 60 years of passion for jazz music, a Japanese jazz trio has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the band with the world’s oldest average age — 83 years.

The group, Golden Senior Trio, is based in the Kansai region. Its members are vibraphonist Naoteru Nabeshima (89), pianist Zensho Otsuka (81) and bassist Naosuke Miyamoto (79).

The musicians each have their own separate groups, but formed the trio in 2008 in response to calls from their fans.

To win recognition for the record, the band had to submit evidence such as proof of having played more than 20 gigs in five years. The official thumbs-up came in July last year.

Previously, the record was held by a band from China, which had an average age of 76 years, according to Guinness World Records.

Nabeshima, the oldest member, comes from a musical lineage. His father was a violinist and mother was a pianist, both artists of classical music.

Nabeshima kept his passion for music alive even during World War II, when Japanese people were not allowed to play Western music. The veteran musician, who was in the navy at the time, recalled that he would stare at music scores so he would not forget how to play.

After the war, he became a vibraphonist, introduced to the instrument by American artist Emil Richards at a U.S. military base in Sendai, northeastern Japan, and pursued jazz music despite strong opposition from his parents.

Otsuka, who is also the chair of the Kansai Jazz Society, says he developed a good ear for music from a young age as he got to play on an organ that his Christian grandmother used to play for practicing carols.

When he was a high school student in Osaka, he composed a song that was chosen as a school anthem. It remains so until now.

In around 1956, Otsuka met Miyamoto — who has been known as a skillful bassist since he was a student — in a jazz cafe in Kobe near Osaka.

The group does not need a drummer as Miyamoto’s bass rhythm is so reliable, the other two members said.

The group pitches itself as straddling genres and its repertoire includes a jazz version of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Pathetique.

“I’d also like to express the beauty of melodies of old Japanese music through jazz,” Nabeshima said.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.