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Japanese free jazz critic Teruto Soejima dies aged 83

Japanese free jazz critic Teruto Soejima passed away on 12 July at the age of 83. Since the late 1960s he had been a tireless booster of free jazz in Japan. In 1969 together with Masayuki Takayanagi, Masahiko Togashi and Masahiko Satoh, he helped found the New Jazz Hall, Tokyo’s first dedicated free jazz venue.

Unusually, Soejima viewed promotion and production as essential components of his job as a critic, and he was closely involved in record production and arranging concert tours. He enjoyed a particularly long and fruitful relationship with the Moers Festival in Germany, where he arranged appearances by over 130 Japanese free musicians between 1977 and 2006. He was equally committed to promoting Japanese tours by Western free jazz musicians (particularly those from Russia and Korea), including Peter Kowald, Christian Marclay, the Seoul Free Music Trio and Jazz Group Arkhangelsk. His books included History Of Japanese Free Jazz (2002), a valuable first-hand account of the music’s development in Japan, and The Story Of Free Jazz Around The World (2013).

Christian Marclay recalls: "In 1986 he organized a tour of Japan for David Moss and I. We performed all over the country traveling in a van for a month. To be Soejima-san's guest was a great honor, he was a thoughtful guide and it was a privilege to discover the country through his eyes and ears. I'm also very grateful to him for introducing my work to a new audience. Through him I met many musicians, among them Otomo Yoshihide who was helping him organize some of the gigs. Teruto Seojima was an important contributor to the development of the music avant-garde in Japan."

Christian Marclay will be appearing in the studio on Thursday 24 July, talking to Chris Bohn about Teruto Soejima in a short one hour tribute. Adventures In Sound And Music broadcasts every Thursday 9-10:30pm on Resonance FM. All shows are archived online.