Sadao Watanabe — 渡辺貞夫 (born Feb. 1, 1933) — is a Japanese saxophonist and flutist who emerged as a bandleader in the early 1960s, releasing his first album in 1961 on King Records. During the 1970s, he released more than 25 albums in solo and collaborative form on CBS, East Wind, and other labels.
Watanabe was born in Utsunomiya, Japan, where he took up reeds at age 18 and launched his performing career in 1953. One of his earliest recording credits is the alto saxophone on “There’ll Never Be Another You” from the 1957 King Records release Jazz at the Torys by the Japanese post-bop quartet The Big Four. The following year, he played alto sax and flute on the Victor release On Stage! Big 4 Plus 1 by drummer George Kawaguchi, recorded June 15, 1958, at the Tokyo Video Hall.
In 1960, Watanabe joined the Modern Jazz Playboys and played on their Columbia release Modern Jazz Screen Mood. That same year, he appeared on albums by pianist Masao Yagi (Masao Yagi Plays Thelonious Monk) and bassist Mitsuru Ono (Funky Jam Session).
Watanabe released his first album as a bandleader in 1961 on King Records.
- Bossa Nova ’67 (1967)
- Bossa Nova Concert (1967)
- Jazz & Bossa (1967 • Sadao Watanabe Quartet Sextet)
- Sadao Meets Brazilian Friends (1968)
- Dedicated to Charlie Parker (1969)
- Pastoral (1969)
- Collaboration (1970 • Masabumi Kikuchi Sextet With Sadao Watanabe Quartet)
- Sadao Watanabe Plays Ballads (1970)
- Round Trip (1970)
- Paysages (1971)
- At Montreux Jazz Festival (live, 1971)
- Sadao Watanabe (1972)
- Meets Inter-African Theater Group (live, 1973)
- Open Road (live, 1973)
- Mbali Africa (live, 1974)
- Sadao Watanabe at Pit Inn (1975)
- Swiss Air (live, 1975)
- Pamoja (1976)
- I’m Old Fashioned (1976 • Sadao Watanabe & Great Jazz Trio)
- My Dear Life (1977)
- Recital (1977)
- Autumn Blow (live, 1977)
- California Shower (1978)
- Hunt Up Wind (1978 • Hiroshi Fukumura with Sadao Watanabe)
- Morning Island (1979)
- Carnaval (live, 1979 • Ron Carter, Hank Jones, Sadao Watanabe & Tony Williams)
- How’s Everything – Sadao Watanabe Live at Budokan (live, 1980)
- Orange Express (1981)
- Fill Up the Night (1983)
- Rendezvous (1984)
- Maisha (1985)
- Parker’s Mood (1985)
- Tokyo Dating (1985)
- Fly Me to the Moon (1986)
- Good Time For Love (1986)
- Birds of Passage (1987)
- Made In Coração (1988 • Toquinho & Sadao Watanabe)
- Elis (1988)
- Front Seat (1989)
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