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Instruments of Change

Yoshio Toyama helps kids in New Orleans toot their own horns.

Author Sharon Mcdonnell Photography Yui Natsuyagi


Image – Yui Natsuyagi

NAME • YOSHIO TOYAMA, 66

MISSION • Donating musical instruments to schools and aid groups in New Orleans through Wonderful World Jazz Foundation, an organization founded by Toyama and his wife, Keiko. At age 14, Toyama started playing trumpet and fell in love with Louis Armstrong’s music, which inspired him to delve deeper into the culture of Armstrong’s hometown. “It was a shock to learn that schools in the birthplace of jazz had very poor musical instruments,” Toyama says. “I was deeply moved to read in Armstrong’s autobiography that he came from the poorest slum. He was sent to a boys home, where he learned to play music. It changed his life.”

MOTIVATION • “We want to remind people of Armstrong’s life and spread his music, love and spirit,” Toyama says. “After World War II, the U.S. helped Japanese people with the kindest of hearts. So this is also a big thanks from Japanese fans to New Orleans for giving the world such a wonderful present called jazz.”

FAVORITE SONGS • “What a Wonderful World” and “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.”

One Response to “Instruments of Change”

  1. Carla Marie Rupp Says:
    May 3rd, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Yoshio and his wife Keiko are truly heroes for their beautiful spirit of helping children in New Orleans with instruments. I have heard this wonderful couple perform in New Orleans at the Satchmo Summerfest, sponsored by French Quarter Festivals (Aug. 5-6, this year) and in New York at Birdland, and they are amazing in their love and spirit of Louis Armstrong.

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