Sat, 01 Oct 1994

Watanabe's album often inspired by local music

JAKARTA (JP): "I was staring out my window and I saw a butterfly fluttering by. It was so moving that I started to hear a new tune in my head. The tune finished and I looked at the butterfly again. Suddenly I realized it was so small, then I decided to name the tune not butterfly, but Burung-burung (Birds)," saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, one of Japan's most well- known jazz musicians, as he recalls a number he composed in Bali sometime ago.

Watanabe told The Jakarta Post recently that Burung-Burung was basically an implementation of his wish to frame Balinese gamelan and kecak, which impressed him greatly, in his tune.

"I do it often, therefore if I go somewhere and find that the local music interests me, I always try to insert some of its influences into my music," he said, referring to his album How's Everything (1981) which was inspired by Brazilian and African music.

For example Mzuri, one of the album's tunes, was inspired by a pygmy tune Watanabe heard when in Tanzania. Pygmy music has interesting tones, it `jumps' from one tone to another in an unusual way, he said.

Samba music

Another number on the album, Boa Noite, shows influence of Samba music and was written to express a feeling of power, said Watanabe, who admitted his fondness of Latin American music. He often listens to the music in his leisure time.

"I want to have a great variety of music in my songs. However, I started with jazz, so it is always jazz in basic, but then I can add fusion, samba or other touches." said Watanabe, adding that his music is not merely jazz, but more `my kind of music'.

Watanabe, who does not like Japanese popular music -- known in Japan as enka -- because of the sad characters, has his last performance at the Blue Note Jazz Club and restaurant today.

In his maiden concert in Jakarta on Monday he demonstrated his great variety of music. Opened with Round Trip and Pastral which offered a thick fusion touch, the concert was rich with a trace of Latin-American, in In Tempo for instance, or of mainstream insinuation in Memorias (In Jersey), which was rendered by Watanabe on saxophone and Kei Akagi on piano.

This last number turned the gaiety of the audience into a more serene temperament. The audience, 90 percent of whom were Japanese, listened attentively to the maestro who gave his best, accompanied by sweet piano tinkles.

The compact but relaxed presentation of the band was supported by Kei Akagi on keyboard, Jun Kajiwara on guitar, Tomohito Aoki on bass, Toshiharu on drum and Steve Thornton on percussion.

The two-hour concert, which was divided into two parts, wound up with Down East which emphasized Watanabe's saxophone blowing as though he'd never be satisfied in making impressive sounds with his saxophone. Watanabe told the Post that "in the next album, if I produce one, I must play more of my horns."

In an art festival organized by the Japanese government in 1971, he was awarded the Winner of Grand Award for his concert titled "Sadao Watanabe Recital," he has produced world hit albums such as My Dear Life in 1977, California Shower in 1978, Morning Island in 1979, and Fill Up The Night in 1983.(als)