08/31/07

Drummer Masahiko Togashi Dies at 67

Drummer Masahiko Togashi passed away at his home in Kanagawa, Japan, on Aug. 22. Over the course of his career, which spanned more than 50 years, the percussionist strived to broaden the exposure of Japanese jazz and bridge Western music with the traditional sounds of eastern Asia. He was 67.

Born in Tokyo on March 22, 1940, Togashi began his musical education with the violin at age 6 and later took up drums. He made his debut as a professional drummer at 14 with his father’s Swing band, and appeared on his first recording three years later with Sadao Watanabe’s Cozy quartet. Togashi would go on to form his own quartet, releasing his group’s debut album, We Now Create, in 1969.

A spinal injury in 1970 left the jazz percussionist permanently paralyzed from the waist down, and he would play the rest of his life seated in a specially designed wheelchair. His physical disability limited his international travels and festival appearances, but he frequently played with musicians who visited Japan. Most notable among these was saxophonist Steve Lacy, who performed and recorded extensively with Togashi during his 12 tours in Japan. One particular recording, Bura-Bura featuring Togashi and Lacy along with Don Cherry and Dave Holland, is a must-hear and has been reissued on two CDs by ALFA.

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