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Sadao Watanabe Celebrates 50 Years in Jazz

Returning to America for the first time in 7 years, Japanese multi-reedist Sadao Watanabe (pictured left) will play an evening engagement in Los Angeles on Sat., Dec. 22, the only American date on his 50th Anniversary tour. 50th Anniversary of what, you might ask?

50 years ago, at the age of 18, Watanabe picked up a saxophone and started playing jazz. Since then he’s become a fixture in the Japanese scene and has also spent time playing with American musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and Chick Corea. That’s reason enough to celebrate. The long-overdue concert will be split into two sets, one showcasing Watanabe as a bebopper from the school of Bird, the other focusing on his more fusion-oriented material. And playing with Watanabe will be a lineup of notable musicians including guitarist Robben Ford, drummer Peter Erskine, bassist Dave Carpenter and pianist Alan Pasqua.

The concert, presented by the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC), will be held at the Japan America Theatre, 244 South San Pedro St. in downtown L.A. Ticket prices vary: Reserved Seating at $35/$32, JACCC Members $30/$27, Students/Seniors and Groups of 10 or more $25/$22. To purchase tickets call the Japan America Theatre Box Office, 213-680-3700, Mon.-Sat., 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For those who won’t be in L.A. for the holidays, Watanabe is also commemorating his 50 years in jazz with a two-CD set: My Dear Life (Verve). The discs feature highlights from his post-1970 recordings that, like the concert, are a mix of straightahead and fusion.

Originally Published