Four Freshmen Welcome Reception
Nov. 30, 2002

Bob Ferreira    Vince Johnson    Brian Eichenberger    Curtis Calderon

The Four Freshmen (group #22) came to Japan. They have an international fan club called the "Four Freshmen Society". The members count 3000 world wide, and of them 95 are Japanese. Some have been members for close to 50 years. The Webmaster has been one for over 45 years since he was 17 years old. Boy, what a long history.

The original members who formed one of the most popular groups during the '50s and '60s are in their mid-70s' now. Bob Flanagan led the group for a long time, but he finally retired in 1992, and now manages the group.

They had no show scheduled on Saturday, November 30, 2002; it was their day off. We negotiated with the Mon Production that brought them to Japan, and invited the Four Freshmen to Little MANUELA for a welcoming reception sponsored by the Four Freshmen Society(FFS), Japan. The representative of FFS Japan, Mr. Yas Ichiura asked me, Wakayama, to arrange the reception, so I delightedly set the party up at Little MANUELA. The attendees were FFS members, and Little MANUELA's FF fans, 50 in all. The small club was so crowded that we were stepping on each other's toes. Even though the crowd was thick, the Four Freshmen told us that they were delighted that they were able to talk with their fans so close up.

The present members are called Group #22. One or two of the members would change once in a while. But, the good thing about the Four Freshmen is that their original style is passed down in perfect form. Still, as time has come along, some groups have used keyboard synthesizers and saxophones.

Since the present group came to be in September 2001, they have stopped using keyboard synthesizers and reverted to the original instruments that were used. They said that "Synthesizers are too electronic". Everyone would agree to that, I'm sure.

Curtis Calderon became a member in the summer of 2001, and joined the tours starting that September.

Before that, he was a trumpet player with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. No wonder he plays so well.

This snap shot is of the jam session with the MANUELA band. He loves Jazz from the bottom of his heart.

Vince recently has started to use whistling as an obbligato. His whistling is in a very clear tone. Hey says that is it because he was brought up by chickadees.

Ever since the very first group, the members of the Four Freshmen had skills that no other groups had, and this tradition still holds.

Mr. & Mrs. Ootomo also attended. Mr. Ootomo's speech was on par with native English speakers and touched the hearts of both the Four Freshmen and the FF fans.

He then sang "Because of You". What a heart-warming presentation. The two brass players of the group backed up the song. What considerate young men they are. The average age of the group went down last year into the 20s'.

Those who met the members of the Four Freshmen for the first time this day must have been surprised by their modesty. This is because they are fully aware of the traditions that the senior Four Freshmen built up over all the years, and respect them very much. They treasure the Four Freshmen fans.

Mari Yoshimura (Mrs. Ootomo) also made a happy speech. "I would like for the younger generation to listen to them."

Of course, of course. The Webmaster was only 17 when he first listened to their records and came to know what true Jazz chorus was.

This snap shot may look the same, but please take a close look at the guitars they are playing. The guitar that Vince is playing is WakaG (webmaster)'s treasured Gibson ES 175, and the bass guitar that Brian is playing is that of Mr. Shibayama of K's Company.

Their instruments had been sent ahead on this morning by Sagawa Express to Utsunomiya, the next city on their show schedule. Vince and Curtis brought along one brass instrument each, though.

The representative of FFS Japan, Mr. Ichiura, in a trombone jam session with Vince.

FFS Japan is secure with a caretaker like him.

The annual fee for membership in FFS is inexpensive at $30/year single or double, $20 for renewal. Fresh News from the international headquarters come 3-4 times a year, one can also buy and CDs and videos available only to the members.

Please contact for membership.

Every one had such a great time, we all got very hungry. We headed out to "Kushiage-ya" a Japanese restaurant near by. A good choice since one can eat with one's hands, and stop the orders when our tummies are full. They ate with gusto exclaiming that the food was great.

The far end is where the smokers' seats are. Now, isn't it funny? Brian who is the youngest is squeezed into the corner. He has begun to learn some Japanese.

He was practicing "Haizara o kudasai" (May I have an ashtray?) and the owner of the place really brought him an ashtray.

Anyway, it was a fun and heart-warming party.

 Four Freshmen Official Site