Araki, James (Jimmy)

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Araki, James (Jimmy)

Araki, James (Jimmy), bebop alto saxophonist and trumpeter; b. Nov. 6, 1927; d. Honolulu, Hawaü, Dec. 13, 1994. Araki is a Japanese-American credited with introducing bebop to Japanese musicians. After spending the war years at the Gila River Detention Center and performing in camp bands, Araki was drafted out of college to serve in the U.S. Army as a translator at the Tokyo War Crimes tribunal. In his spare time Araki studied bebop theory and performance techniques, which he went on to share with native musicians. His compositions and arrangements (“A.P.O. 500,” “Rock Romondo,” “Boogie in C,” “Tokyo Riff,” and “A Night in Pakistan”) formed the basis for the first “modern jazz” recording session in Japan in August 1947—performed, ironically, by an all-star band of traditional and swing musicians known as The Victor Hot Club. The following year Araki and jazz critic Nogawa Kobun organized a bebop study group and rehearsal band to perform Araki’s original compositions and arrangements in Tokyo. Araki returned to the U.S. in October 1949; after a brief stint performing with Lionel Hampton, Araki embarked on a successful career as a scholar of Japanese literature at the Univ. of Hawaü at Manoa. He returned to Japan often throughout his career, occasionally jamming with his old friends (and arranging a recording session in 1959). In 1991, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Fourth Class, for his contributions to the study of Japanese literature and the promotion of jazz in Japan.


Jazz Beat: Midnight Jazz Session (1959); Kogane jidai no Victor Hot Club (1973).

—E. Taylor Atkins