Alto saxophonist Sadao Watanabe performs with his band featuring Danny Grissett (piano), Ben Williams (bass), and Johnathan Blake (drum set). Sponsored by the Woodwind Department.
Born on February 1, 1933, Sadao Watanabe began playing the alto sax at age 18. He made a name for himself in the jazz scene, participating in Toshiko Akiyoshi's Cozy Quartet and various other sessions. He studied abroad at Berklee Music of College, enriching his musical style by performing with big acts such as Chico Hamilton and Gary McFarland. Forming his own band after returning to Japan in 1965, Watanabe became more active in the national music scene and played a major role in creating in the big bossa nova boom in Japan in the '60s. The 1968 Newport Jazz Festival marked the beginning of his international career.
In 2001, Watanabe was appointed as the executive producer of the Japanese Government Exhibition Project for the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan. He culminated the events with a performance with youth percussion and chorus groups from five continents in an extraordinary cross-cultural blend of rhythm and song. This project has spread to Jakarta, Guam, and the Zaragoza Expo 2008.
On behalf of his lifetime contribution in music, Watanabe received the Mainichi Art Awards last year. He appeared at the Montreal and Toronto jazz festivals with his Japanese band last July. His 70th album, Into Tomorrow, was released last September.