483

Sadao Watanabe: Basie's at Night

By

Sign in to view read count
Sadao Watanabe: Basie's at Night

The packed house that greeted Sadao Watanabe at NBew York's Blue Note in August, 2008 was a testament to both his popularity and the rarity of his visits to America. Now in his mid-70s, Watanabe is still an impressive alto sax man who plays with confidence and a heartwarming sentimentality. He was appearing in conjunction with the release of Basie’s at Night, a double live CD recorded in Japan in 2007, with pianist Akira Onozuka, bassist Koichi Osamu, drummer Masaharu Ishikawa and percussionist N’diasse Niang.



Bebop is Watanabe’s primary influence, evident from the opening tune of the album, “One for You,” which he plays reverently. Onozuka’s eloquence complements Watanabe’s irrepressible optimism on “Plum Island,” although Ishikawa’s drum solo doesn’t quite hit the mark. Watanabe imbues ballads like “Deep in a Dream” and “Call Me” with deep emotion and a touch of pathos while the vibrant “See What Happens,” which sounds like “Oleo” with elements of “Salt Peanuts,” is a showcase for the entire band.



Watanabe also effectively combines the African and bebop genres on the excellent medley “Alalake”/”Lopin,” with vocals by Niang. “Maji” is another African-influenced Watanabe original, with a dynamic tête-à-tête between Niang and Ishikawa. The band even indirectly touches on spirituals via the joyous “Harambee,” strongly reminiscent of “This Little Light of Mine.”



Watanabe enhanced the Blue Note lineup by adding an electric keyboard to Onozuka’s piano; Kiichiro Komobuchi replaced Osamu on electric bass and Jun Kajiwara was added on guitar. These changes broadened the music and showed that Watanabe has moved with the times. While the resulting fusion-based tunes the band played were well received, the straight-ahead tunes were better. The selections from from the album were well done, in particular the version of “Tembea” (The Blue Note version of “See What Happens” had an unexpected improv: what sounded initially like someone urging the band on was actually the protests of an inebriated and unruly man being dragged out of the club). Onozuka and Ishikawa and Niang were in fine form and Watanabe sounded excellent. The saxophonist closed the show as he ended the disc, with “Carinhoso,” a lovely duet with Onozuka that he dedicated to his grateful audience.

Track Listing: Disc 1: One for You; Plum Island; I

Personnel: Sadao Watanabe: alto sax; Akira Onozuka: piano; Koichi Osamu: bass; Masaharu Ishikawa: drums; N

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: JVC Discs | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read In the Still of the Night CD/LP/Track Review In the Still of the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Zea CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Asian Fields Variations CD/LP/Track Review Asian Fields Variations
by John Kelman
Published: May 21, 2017
Read Left Right Left CD/LP/Track Review Left Right Left
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 26, 2016
Read "Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works" CD/LP/Track Review Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Purple Patio" CD/LP/Track Review Purple Patio
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 27, 2016
Read "Risc" CD/LP/Track Review Risc
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 29, 2016
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Dare To Be" CD/LP/Track Review Dare To Be
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, and provide read access to our future articles.