Take Five with Wataru Uchida
Wataru Uchida, a saxophonist and composer, was born in Yokohama, Japan. He moved to New York in 2000 and studied with Chico Freeman to achieve the "fat" sound that is the Chicago tenor player's trademark.
Wataru has ever performed at Birdland, Paul Recital Hall of Julliard School of Music, Jazz Standard, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, as a guest soloist of Tokyo Swing Beats Jazz Big Band. He also performed at Museum of the City of New York, leading the best Japanese jazz performers living in New York on May 15, 2010. In 2008, Wataru recorded Blue Morpho, with New York-based Brazilian jazz giants such as Romero Lubambo, Helio Alvis, Nilson Matta, Cafe Da Silva, and Ze Mauricio. The album is dedicated to Baden Powell, the legendary Brazilian guitarist, of whom Wataru has been a big fan of since childhood.
Currently, Wataru is performing in New York with his band, featuring master acoustic guitarist David Acker.
Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: }}Chico Freeman}}, Junior Mance
Influences : Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, Baden Powell.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I happened to start playing a bass trombone in a middle school brass band in a small town. First, I wanted to be a composer of classical music.
Your sound and approach to music:
It should not be complicated, because I am not only playing for hipsters. My goal is to play instrumental music which encourages people, including blue collar. I know it's not easy.
Your teaching approach:
My lessons are totally customized. I sometimes teach how to read music for free. For the people who want to play jazz, I spend time teaching basic ear training, because you should hear what you will play. For advanced students, I teach style analysis of any single tone solos that they are interested in, and help them to make their own etudes.
Your dream band:
As a professional musician, I don't dream a band project; I just plan it. A band I want to have has two sides one is strong drive, with Afro-Latin rhythms; another is a conversation between musicians, especially in open and slow tunes or even in rubato tempo. I hope it would be considered in-between jazz and world music. I am working on the first part for now, but I am actually writing for the second part, too.
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Anytime I have an audience, it's a celebration of my life. I just don't want venues to provide audiences plastic chairs, plastic plates and plastic forks, because that's such a big turn-off. Well, I see that recently. Please don't make my best time worse!
Kitano Hotel, Birdland, Zinc Bar.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
McCoy Tyner's The Real McCoy; yes It's happening!
The first Jazz album I bought was:
I forgot what volume it was, but it was Charlie Parker's LP from Dial or Savoy. I didn't enjoy it at the time.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Since the time of radio, our listening experience has been changing. Also, music marketing in 20th century has added delusions to each genre of music and changed them into something like a fashion item. Now, why don't I simply play sax in front of people just as a worker class guy, hoping that to be just an ordinary picture in the neighborhood or the town?
CDs you are listening to now:
Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians;
Baden Powell, Solitude on Guitar;
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti;
Karl Bohm Wiener Pil, Brahms Symphony 1-4.
Desert Island picks:
Do you mean if I would drift to an isolated island? Can I keep a woman with me instead?
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
It seems to be a whole package, to suck up money from wealthy parents of wasted music major students. If you need an official comment, call Wynton Marsalis.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Commitment to the middle 20th century's subculture. I have never said that jazz is growing. Further question? Ask Wynton, please!
What is in the near future?
I will stick to BK and NY and keep playing with David Acker, if it is OK with him.
If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
My biggest mistake was that I didn't know there was a job where I could research the sea all the time. I am the guy who couldn't be another Jacques Cousteau.
Courtesy of Wataru Uchida