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Kaoru Watanabe: a rare musician who traverses the traditional music forms both East and West, classical and contemporary, predetermined and improvisational. His expertise in taiko drumming and bamboo flutes gives his music both force with extreme delicacy. His superb musicianship makes him a joy to create with. He enriches any musical situation with his unique perspective.
— Jason Moran (Jazz Pianist, Blue Note Recording Artist)

Hello all,

I just came back from a short trip out to DC and North Carolina where I gave a series of workshops and performances. The workshops in DC were for old friends Mark H Rooney and his students and the group Nen Daiko. In Chapel Hill, I teamed up with Kenny Endo for a handful of lectures and then a duo concert at the beautiful Memorial Hall. 

The concert was special to me for many reasons: 

One, it was the first time I played an instrument called the O-tsuzumi after having my first lesson on it about half a year ago with Mochizuki Saburo and more recently with his son Ishizuka Yuu. The O-tsuzumi is used in Japanese classical musics such as Noh and Kabuki. I had especially wanted to learn O-tsuzumi (large drum) because Kenny is a specialist of the ko-tsuzumi (small drum) and the two drums are always used together as a unit- like two sides of the same coin. Considering I do a lot of duo work with Kenny, it only makes sense that I learn to play the O-tsuzumi to broaden our repertoire. 

Another reason the concert was special may seem a bit trite but nonetheless had significance to me as my development as a solo artist after leaving Kodo. While I have recently performed in venues across the world of varying degrees of size and prestige, this was the first time that I performed in a hall where Kodo performs fairly regularly on their North American tours with my own name in the marquee. It can be challenging to come from an established and extremely influential large ensemble and then create a body of work that is personal, distinct and developed enough to stand on it's own at the same scale as said group. I eagerly looked forward to continue in this vein, creating more and more work that is challenging, honest and pushing the envelop.

Since returning to New York, I had the pleasure of working again with the dancer Sachiyo Ito in her long-running "Salon Series" at Tenri Cultural Center. The highlight of this concert for me personally was collaborating with SAORI weaver (and wife o' mine) Mari Nakano. For the concert, we had attached some bells to her loom to enhance the various clicks and clacks that occurred when she wove, but in the end, they were perhaps unnecessary- the unadorned sound of her weaving complimented the sound of the fue with a beautifully abstract and minimal rhythm perfectly. As Mari wove, Sachiyo sensei danced the story of Tsuru No Ongaeshi- a story of a crane that repays the kindness of a man by weaving a kimono made from her own feathers. I am already considering ways to continue this collaboration in different forms.

From now, I will be traveling off and on for the next couple of months in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico and Arizona on tour again with the great Kenny Endo. I'm looking forward to a reunion with a amazing vibraphonist Hitoshi Hamada and for a first time collaboration with the superstar shamisen player Hiromitsu Agatsuma. Let me know if you, your friends and or family will be around for any of these shows!


October 10- Hawaii Theater- Honolulu- concert 

October 11- Kauai Concert Society- concert

October 12- Kauai Concert Society- school show

October 16- City of Kent, WA- concert

October 17-The Shedd- Eugene, OR- concert

October 22- Harris Center, Folsom, CA - concert

October 23- Harris Center, Folsom, CA -school show

October 25th - KWTC Student Recital, NY 

November 14 -AMP concert- Santa Fe, NM

November 15- AMP- concert- Albuquerque, NM

November 17- Green Valley Recreation- concert Tucson, AZ

November 20- Soka University, Aliso Viejo, CA- school show

November 21- Soka University, Aliso Viejo, CA-- concert

November 27- Solo Performance@Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Dec 20- Student Recital and NeO Performance@Shapeshifter 





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