Get this crazy baby off my head!


Kazumi Watanabe

Kazumi Watanabe ‎- The Spice Of Life - 1987 - Polydor K.K. / Domo

This album features the power trio of K. Watanabe on all guitars & guitar synths, fantastic bassist Jeff Berlin and Bill Bruford who was the drummer for the classic rock band Yes. By the time Kazumi Watanabe expanded beyond jazz to join the fusion movement, it was the '80s and fusion had all but died in The States. It was a pure delight to see this man keep fusion alive with a mixture of rock, the hard-driving beats and rythms of the '80s which kept the music current in its time and updated the sound that had once been the property of the '70s..........and of course, the jazz influence is solid throughout this recording. Watanabe is a tremendous guitar talent who is too often overlooked. His blistering hot guitar work shines with a knowledge of American culture while he slips in a definite Japanese flavor in his music........sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. An incredible album!!! On a scale of 1-5 stars, this album deserves 10 stars!!! I also agree with other reviewers that the sequel album "Spice of Life Too" was a weak and disappointing follow-up to this superb album. I haven't bothered to pick it up on CD, because even with the addition of a keyboardist, the music was uninspired and lackluster.......worth 3 stars at best........but again, THIS album, the ORIGINAL "Spice of Life" deserves 10 stars on a scale of 1-5 stars!!! An excellent piece of work!!! – from ***** A masterpiece of Fusion for the'80s and today!!! December 26, 2007 By & © D. Gorman "Crystalline Structure Moon" © 1996-2013, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates http://www.amazon.com/Spice-Life-Kazumi-Watanabe/dp/B000007UKW

Kazumi Watanabe (born on October 14, 1953) is a jazz and jazz fusion guitarist, from Tokyo, Japan. He learned to play guitar from Sadanori Nakamure, one of Japan's master guitarists. Kazumi released his first album in 1971, and quickly showed his great potential on the fretboard. In 1979, he formed an all-star band with some of Japan's leading studio musicians, and recorded the fusion masterpiece “Kylyn”. Throughout the eighties Kazumi released several jazz-rock albums. The funky and bright sounding “To Chi Ka” is probably one of Kazumi’s better known early releases. Later albums like “Mobo Club” and “Mobo Splash” are more experimental. Arguably, Kazumi Watanabe’s strongly melodic “Spice of Life” with drummer Bill Bruford and bassist Jeff Berlin is one of Kazumi’s best releases and HR by A.O.O.F.C. Listen to Kazumi’s exceptional “To Chi Ka” album [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 113 Mb]


A1 Melancho 3:27
A2 Hiper K 5:38
A3 City 4:27
A4 Period 6:37

B1 Unt 5:10
B2 Na Starovia 4:46
B3 Lim-Poo 4:49
B4 J. F. K. 4:54
9 Rage In 6:19 (Bonus Track)

All tracks composed by Kazumi Watanabe except "Na Starovia" by Kazumi Watanabe & Bill Bruford, "J. F. K." by Kazumi Watanabe & Jeff Berlin, and “Rage In” by Kazumi Watanabe, Bill Bruford, & Jeff Berlin


Kazumi Watanabe - Guitars, Guitar-Synthesizer
Jeff Berlin - Bass
Bill Bruford - Drums, Electronic Drums, Percussion


Kazumi Watanabe is a jazz and jazz fusion guitarist, from Tokyo, Japan. He was born on October 14, 1953. Kazumi learnt to play guitar from Sadanori Nakamure, who is one of Japans grandmaster guitarists. He released his first recording in 1971, and quickly became a promising guitarist in his own right. In 1979, he formed an all-star band with some of Japans leading studio musicians, and recorded the album "KYLYN", which is considered a masterpiece in fusion music. During the eighties Watanabe released a considerable number of jazz-rock albums. To Chi Ka (1980), with its funk influences and bright sound, is probably the most famous of early titles. Some latter albums, such as Mobo Club (1983) and Mobo Splash (1985) display more experimental tendencies. But the most famous of all is Spice of Life (1987) which is done in strongly melodic style. The DVD has been issued from the tour in which the album was played with drummer Bill Bruford and bassist Jeff Berlin (who also play on the studio record). In the 1990s Kazumi assembled all-Japanese line-up called Resonance Vox (Vagabonde Suzuki on bass, Rikiya Higahihara on drums, Tomohiro Yahiro on percussions). This band went on releasing adventurous fusion albums. Watanabe has worked with numerous musicians such as Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, Jeff Berlin, Bill Bruford, Sly and Robbie, Wayne Shorter, Patrick Moraz, Marcus Miller, Richard Bona, and Peter Erskine. Since 1996, he has been a visiting professor of music at Senzoku Gakuen College. He is known for the endorsement of Steinberger and Paul Reed Smith guitars, and has been chosen Best Jazzman 24 times in a row by Swing Journal's annual poll. Kazumi Watanabe has released over 30 studio, live and compilation albums, and several DVDs


Kazumi Watanabe lives up to his name as the Japan’s world-class, top jazz guitarist. His quick tempo weaves fascinating ad libs and affluent melodies; he has been noted for elaborately combining various performing techniques and infusing rich expressive power to each and every note to create a one-of-a-kind “Kazumi Sound”. He has made the world his stage for over 40 years, transgressing genres and borders to perform with an outstanding number of domestic and international artists. The natural-born improviser also builds a unique world of composition and arrangements, always pioneering frontier instrumental music. Born 1953 in Tokyo, Kazumi Watanabe took the piano at the tender age of seven, but picked up the guitar at age 12 inspired by the Ventures. At 15, he was stunned by the music of Wes Montgomery and turned his aspiration to jazz. He made his debut at age 17 with Infinite and was quickly hailed as the guitar prodigy extraordinaire. While playing in Japan’s top-profile groups led by artists such as Masaru Imada, Sadao Watanabe, and Isao Suzuki, he led his own band as well. From around Olive Steps (1977), he rode the wave of popularity of fusion and guitar music, taking in not only jazz fans but also rock fans under his wings. In 1979 he formed KYLYN with then-up-and-coming stars in the Japanese music scene, namely Ryuichi Sakamoto, Akiko Yano, and Shuichi “Ponta” Murakami, and went on to release an album, perform live, and tour. KYLYN earned the recognition as the legendary band that had made a tremendous influence on the Japanese music scene thereafter, with each member still playing pivotal roles in respective scenes. In the fall of that year (1979) Kazumi participated in Yellow Magic Orchestra’s world tour as guest guitarist. His play won rave reviews in everywhere he went, which catapulted his name to international fame. TO CHI KA (1980), produced by Mike Mainieri, marked an unprecedented sales figure and brought Kazumi to the forefront of the fusion scene. The release was followed by an 11-city tour with Mainieri on vibraphone, Warren Bernhardt on piano and keyboards, Marcus Miller on bass and Omar Hakim on drums. Then up to 1985, he made more epoch-making steps than you could count, such as playing alongside Eddie Gomez and Steve Gadd in the Japan tour of STEPS, a group of cream of the New York-based musicians, as well as the Brecker Brothers Band’s performances at New York’s Seventh Avenue South and their Japan tour, and bassist Jaco Pastorius’ Japan tour to name a few. On the other hand, Kazumi continued to push the envelope of fusion in Kazumi Band, his own band formed with musicians of notable, extraordinary techniques such as saxophonist Yasuaki Shimizu, keyboardist Masanori Sasaji, bassist Kenji Takamizu and drummer Hideo Yamaki. With another band MoboⅢ, a trio with bassist Greg Lee and Shuichi “Ponta” Murakami, he toured the United States performing 17 shows in 12 cities including New York, enjoying high acclaim in each city. Furthermore, recorded with ultra-heavyweights such as Marcus Miller (bass), Omar Hakim (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Sly Dunbar (drums), and Michael Brecker (saxophone), album Mobo earned high acclaim as a work of experimental approaches to a new sound. During this time, Kazumi produced a number of seminal works in the history of fusion, and established his stature as Japan’s top guitarist. In the late 80s, Kazumi actively explored new fields and recorded an album in London with drummer Bill Bruford, the British rock giant renowned for his activities in King Crimson, and bassist Jeff Berlin. The unit toured twelve cities in Japan, and went on to record another album in London as well as doing many more tours, winning overwhelming support from progressive rock fans across the nation. He also led a band with Kei Akagi on keyboards, Bunny Brunel on bass, and John Wackerman on drums, touring 9 cities in the United States and performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. On a tour sponsored by The Japan Foundation, he visited Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, and China, and performed with local musicians. In the 90s, Kazumi began to immerse himself into acoustic guitar as well, combining it with electric to further expand his musical field. He played strings of European dates such as Barcelona (Spain), Italy, and France with leading free jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita, as well as Bulgaria and Lisbon (Portugal) with bassist Nobuyoshi Ino, all enjoying high acclaim. Starting with a guitar duo on Tokyo Music Joy with John McLaughlin back in 1987, Kazumi has presented and continues to present to this day the best part of collaborations with world’s high profile guitarists, exciting enthusiasm in many guitar fans. The long list of collaborated guitarists include Al DiMeola at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival in 1993, Larry Coryell on recording sessions and tours, Babik Reinhardt, son of Django Reinhardt at the Django Festival in 1997, Toninho Horta, Ralph Towner, Roland Dyens, and Martin Taylor. After participating in the Yatsugatake Music Festival directed by contemporary music composer Toru Takemitsu in 1992, Kazumi forged close ties with classical guitarists as well, and began to receive more requests of music contributions and arrangements. This led him to begin exploring the world of unplugged guitar music, and to experiment resonance with the vibrancy of classical music halls. As for muscular electric music, Kazumi formed RESONANCE VOX that was active from 1991 through 1996. On the other hand, he led ASIA FANTASY ORCHESTRA in 1995, a 32-piece orchestra of Asian musicians from various genres. The orchestra performed in four cities namely Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Tokyo, as well as African countries as part of the “Taiko Meets Jazz” project. While rooting in his Japanese identity, the improviser developed a global communication field that went beyond the borders of genres. In 1998, Kazumi recorded Dandism in New York, a tight duo album with pianist Makoto Ozone. The following year he recorded live at the Bottom Line in New York with his New Yorker friends Mike Mainieri (vibraphone), Larry Coryell (guitar), Akiko Yano (piano), John Patitucci (bass), and Mino Cinelu (drums), resulting in One For ALL, a perfect live album to curtain the 20th century. Stepping into the 21st century, Kazumi released Beyond The Infinite, a guitar suite to commemorate the 30th year of his career as a guitarist. Upon composing and arranging the music, he drew on his improviser’s side and created his own unique world, making the suite a borderless work of art that freely transgresses genres such as classical music, contemporary music, jazz, rock, and folk. The suite was premiered and released as an album as well. Later, it was rearranged as an orchestral suite and was premiered in 2006 conducted by Seikyo Kim. In February 2003, Kazumi released Guitar Renaissance, the first album in his career he performed completely solo. In May that year, he recorded Mo’Bop in New York as the New Electric Trio with bassist Richard Bona and drummer Horacio el Negro Hernandez. The trio was highly publicized when they world premiered at Tokyo Jazz 2003. Since then for the next four years, he continued to release and perform series of acoustic and electric projects in parallel. With his solo performing skills that he matured with Guitar Renaissance series, he increased his efforts in his solo activities in Europe in 2006, performing in Rome and Paris, as well as participating in a guitar festival in Iceland. At the same time, he launched the Asian Super Guitar Project with guitarists from Korea and Hong Kong. Fruiting album Guitar Sam Guk Ji, the trio performed in Japan and Korea as well as various jazz festivals in Asia. In 2007, Kazumi produced Castle In The Air, a collaborative project with pianist/composer Koko Tanikawa, his musical and personal partner since 1997, who had been producing his overall activities from album making to live performances. The album was released in late 2007. As part of the duo unit also named Castle In The Air, he supported Koko’s worldview and music, rooted in her deep insight on world environment and the concept of coexistence with nature. The unit also contributed music for the live-action version of movie Grave Of The Fireflies that hit theaters in 2008. In the midst of such myriad activities, Kazumi also launched the “Return To Jazz Project” to focus on his point of origin. He released Jazz Impression in fall 2009, and continues to perform live all across the nation as a duo with bassist Yosuke Inoue and occasionally with guest artists. In the four-city, seven-show China tour sponsored by The Japan Foundation in 2009, Kazumi presented a stereoscopic rendition of contemporary music with jazz saxophonist Masato Honda, Koko Tanikawa, and Chinese Pipa player Jiang Ting, which enjoyed high acclaim. This experience made him realize a new enthusiasm and potential in contemporary China especially in terms of jazz and fusion, as well as the importance of nurturing young local jazz players. 2010 has seen a string of events commemorating Kazumi’s 40th career anniversary as a guitarist, including a concert with an orchestra in July where he played all movements of Concierto de Aranjuez, the gold standard of guitar concertos, with a pick. Being the first person in all genres to take on such a challenge, the concert naturally garnered much attention. On top of this, he will perform at Tokyo Jazz in early September leading "TO CHI KA 2010”, a one-night-only reunion with then-tour mates Mike Mainieri (vibraphone), Warren Bernhardt (piano/keyboards), Marcus Miller (bass) and Omar Hakim (drums) for the first time in 30 years, raising expectations among long time jazz/fusion fans. Recently, he also performed at the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto as part of a special unit deriving from the Toru Takemitsu Tribute project that had enjoyed rave reviews at the Japan Week 2008 in Washington DC. The unit will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York and in Orange County in December. Kazumi has enjoyed numerous exposures on TV, radio, and their special programs, including regular appearances on Yumeno Rannyusha on Kansai TV for six years since 1990, as well as instructing in Acoustic Guitar for Beginners on NHK’s educational channel in 2003. On radio, he deejayed on Dogatana World: Kazumi Watanabe’s Good Vibration and navigated NHK FM’s Jazz Tonight for two years since 2005. He shares his experiences in his musical life in print media as well, contributing essays occasionally and regularly. Contributing music to and sometimes participating in musicals and plays such as DJANGO 1953, Barcelona Story, Blood Wedding, and Kaihogen to name a few, Kazumi has collaborated with a wide variety of performing arts such as dance, Noh dramas and traditional Japanese music, exerting his high flexibility and capability. He enjoys his stature as a first-call guitarist in film music, composing and performing theme tunes and music to grace important scenes. Kazumi Watanabe is currently guest professor at the jazz course of Senzoku Gakuen College of Music. He has received the prestigious Fumio Nanri Award in 1991. © KAZUMIWATANABE.NET All Right Reserved http://www.kazumiwatanabe.net/bio/english.html


A.O.O.F.C said...


P/W is aoofc

francisco santos said...

i've got like 25 or more albums from him...is one of my favorites guitar players from Japan ...if you have any album in mind just say the word !

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,my friend Francisco. Thanks for the offer but I've got all his albums as far as I know! TTU later...Paul

ratso said...

Jeff Berlin and Bill Bruford - must have. Thanks.

A.O.O.F.C said...

G'day,ratso! Best in the biz! SYL & TVM...Paul

francisco santos said...

can you post Kaleidoscope (2004) it's one that i do not have...thank you very much

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Francisco. I did say I had all his albums "as far as I knew". I was wrong. I overlooked that one and would really like to hear it. Can anybody help with a link to this album? TVM & TTU soon...Paul