Dai Kimoto & his Swing Kids

Bandleader Dai's story

one Canadian Agency wrote 

Dai Kimoto 

Musician - Composer - Teacher 

Dai Kimoto was born in the small town of Kurashiki which is between Osaka and Hiroshima Japan. His family and neighborhood were of simple means and he grew up in a loving household. The towns focus was definitely not on music and the arts culture.  

Dai began to play baseball when he was six and grew up with the sport into his high years. He was an athlete with extraordinary abilities and strength, so everybody thought he would become hugely successful in the sports field. One day, when he was 15 years old, he heard a Dixieland record. Something hit him like a bolt of lightning. "What beautiful music!" he thought. It left him with such a happy feeling he had never experienced before - through music that is. This encouraged him to pick up the trumpet.  

On the 25th of December, 1964, Dai purchased the cheapest trumpet he could find. He ran home and started to play. In school, Dai did not like music class. He kept falling asleep in class because of his extensive baseball training. His music teacher, a young woman would say "Dai, OK, if you don’t disturb us, you can sleep". He became an exception among the other pupils because of his athletic excellence. So, Dai  had no concept of musician theory: notes and rhythm. He could however play the C major scale on the first day he started to play some easy songs. 

From that day on, he's been crazy about music ever since. He purchased some records and listened to them carefully. Soon, he started to mimic Louis Armstrong, Harry James & Bix Beiderbecke. Three months later, after he entered high where he was to join their famous baseball team, he didn't. Everyone was very disappointed in his decision. His father was very upset because he dreamed about his son becoming a world class athlete. To this day, there is still animosity between the two of them.  

Dai taught himself how to read and write music. He met other local musicians in the area and they decided to form a band. In those times, it was very difficult to find music arrangements  for jazz band. So he had to write his own arrangements. He purchased several books and two months later, the rest is history. "Those were beautiful memories" he boasts.  

After high school, he wanted to be a professional musician but he had no connections in the business. One night, he travelled to the closest city called Okayama, there he discovered three big night clubs playing Big Band music.  

That night, he waited in front of a club until a musician came out. A couple of saxophone players came out and Dai very humbly asked "Excuse me,  are you a musician of the band? I play trumpet and I  would like to play professionally"  They were very kind and said "OK, we’re  going to eat something, why don’t you come with us?"  Then in the restaurant they said "Tomorrow we’ll be rehearsing in the afternoon, show up with your trumpet." 

Later that night Dai went home and was so excited he could hardly sleep. The next day, he should up for rehearsal and the band leader said "Play something". He thought it was ok and asked him to come to the band stand. He got a job playing third trumpet the next day. 

On his first performance night Dai was terrified because he could not read music on the spot. One of his colleagues, said 'don't you worry, one day you will be great. I've been in this business a long time and saw allot of young men come and go, you kid have guts."  

After 10 months, Dai travelled to Tokyo and joined a band which was a house band for a big night club. He performed on television and toured with big name singers. He continued to audition wherever he got the chance and landed a job with a well known television orchestra.  

At 25, he left Japan. Dai wanted to see the world. He flew to Paris and then to London. He had a phone number of an English trumpet player whom he had met several years ago in Japan. He was working in the orchestra pit for the musical "Hello Dolly". So Dai decided to pay him a visit. A trombone player mentioned to him that they were looking for a trumpet player. His friend called  him after a few days and told him to come out tonight and bring your trumpet. He had no idea what kind of music they played and the band was called the "Tony Evans Orchestra". Later he found out they were quite famous. This band had toured all over the world with Tom Jones. Dai had seen Tom Jones in Japan when they toured but he had no idea what the name of the back up band was. What a small world. 

He played with them that night, was offered a job and later got into trouble with the musicians union. So he decided to leave England, asked around where the best place to get work would be and everybody mentioned Munich Germany, so off he went.  

It was January 1976, it was a very bad winter in Germany, something Dai never got used being from Japan. He was alone in the streets, knew nobody and spoke no German. He had no idea what to do to start a life there so he decided the first thing he should do is find a place to sleep so he rented a room in a small hotel. 

Next day, he asked an English person where the Jazz clubs were around the area. He gave him a few names and he went there that night. At intermission, he asked the bandleader if he could play a set with them, he was not very kind to him and said "No". He pleaded his case, telling him that he was not an amateur and he finally agreed. That was the beginning of life in Munich. 

At that time, the Max Greger Orchestra was the most successful band in Germany. The band released more than 160 records in their career. The musicians were paid about about $10,000 per month, in the 70's! That was really big money at that time. Everybody wanted to play with them and not just for the money but for the prestige. That was Dai's dream.  

He joined them for only one day until the department of immigration threw him out of the country because I had no working permit. So, he went back to his parents in Japan for a little while. 

He was banned from entering Germany for, one year. But after few weeks, Dai received a  telegram from Max Greger. He was looking for a new trumpet player. Dai explained his deportation situation. Max said he would take care of things for him and long story short, he went back to Germany to play for the band. 

In 1979, Max Greger stopped his career and dissolved his band. Dai travelled to Switzerland because he had a girlfriend there. They are now married. He has played all over the country on TV shows, radio, recording studios, opera houses, churches, in concerts with bands and symphony orchestras etc. Then, his son came into the world and he wanted to settle down. He began to teach music. Dai welcomed the 'fresh' change of pace.  

Dai had a beautiful life with lots of ups and downs and tons of memories to go along with that. Now he can share his knowledge and expertise with young eager students who will reflect his light and spirit in years to come. What an amazing life story.