By the time Watanabe was a teenager, Japan had lost World War II.
The country became infused with American movies and music.
With the establishment of an Army camp near Utsunomiya, Watanabe was exposed to many aspects of American culture, and he was fascinated.
Education: Graduated from the Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA, 1965.
Addresses: Record company--M&M Studio Company, Ltd., #503, 4-3-6 Roppongi Minato-Ku, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan, e-mail: [email protected] A highly visible and well-regarded musician, Sadao Watanabe has been one of the major influences on jazz in Japan.
Since 1969 he has hosted radio programs that introduce his listeners to a range of musical styles.
Throughout his 50-year career he has created a substantial collection of music ranging from straightforward bebop to bossa nova.
His endorsements for products have made his face as well as his more commercial compositions familiar to the average citizen.
He has worked with artists from Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the United States.
When playing his saxophone, Watanabe is uniquely identifiable.
Gene Kalbacher wrote in Down Beat, "As a saxist, Watanabe's cachet is melody--simple, catchy melody--purveyed by a semi-sweet alto tonality and a fluid delivery.
That he retains this signature sound in settings ranging from jazz-rock fusion to bebop, from samba to reggae, from Mozart to Masai tribal music, testifies to his insistence on authenticity." Born on February 1, 1933, in Utsunomiya, Japan, Watanabe was one of five children (four sons and one daughter).
In the small town about 90 miles north of Tokyo, Watanabe's father worked as an electrician but also played and taught the Japanese equivalent of the lute, called the biwa.
It would be his father's acquiescence to his desires that would allow Watanabe to move from this small town to the world.