​Nomination for Independent Music Award for Best Song-Jazz Instrumental
​March 2018
 
 
My original "Waterfall" from my new CD " Flying Without Wings" was nominated for the 16th Independent Music Award for Best Song-Jazz Instrumental.
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Interview with Jazz Author Debbie Burke

​January 2018

 

 

Please check out my interview with Jazz Author Debbie Burke on debbieburkeauthor.com​

This interview was included in Debbie Burke's book "Tasty Jazz Jams for Our Times" along with the other wonderful artists. This book was included in the list of top Jazz books for 2019 from W.Royal Stokes, founding member of the Jazz Journalists Association. It is available to purchase from Amazon.

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​CD review by Jim Motavalli - The New York City Jazz Record

April 2018

CD review by Scott Yanow -The LA Jazz Scene

​September 2017

Review

An excellent modern jazz pianist whose playing builds on the innovations of Bill Evans and early Herbie Hancock, Mamiko Watanabe has developed her own voice as a performer and a songwriter. On Flying Without Wings, she performs seven originals plus fresh renditions of “Like Someone In Love” and “Caravan” in a trio with bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Francisco Mela.

While Ms. Watanabe can play powerfully as she shows on “Different Angles” (which has some masterful bass playing by Debriano) and “It Will Be,” she is especially winning on the more subtle and laidback performances such as the thoughtful “Letter” and the emotional “Caipirinha.” Other highlights include the Monkish “Palette” which has a witty melody, and an inventive “Caravan.” The pianist is particularly skilled at drawing out and embracing melodies. She often builds her improvisations not only from the chord structure but from the mood of the themes. Debriano and Mela are major assets throughout the set, playing with subtlety and following the pianist’s ideas very closely.

This is first-class trio playing from a pianist who deserves to be much better known. Flying Without Wings, Mamiko Watanabe’s latest recording, is available from www.mamikowatanabe.com .

Scott Yanow

A song "Sand and the Beautiful" was released from Hawthplay Records
September 2016
A song entitled "Sand and the Beautiful" composed by Flautist/Producer Ronald Lashley featuring me on the keyboard was released on September 15th from Hawthplay Records LLC.(www.Hawthplayrecords.com)
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​Video Project by D'Addario Woodwinds Company
November 2014
I'm honored to be in this video project( for Select Jazz Mouthpiece) by D'Addario Woodwinds Company and get to play with wonderful musicians.
It is available to watch the video of this session from the link.
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"13 Questions Around Jazz by photographer Salvatore Corso
January 2013
​I was honored to be a part of this project by photographer Salvatore Corso. The book "13 Questions Around Jazz" features many wonderful Jazz musicians in New York. My portrait is on the page 16. It is available to preview or buy this book from the link.
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CD Review by Mark Holson-JAZZIZ Magagine
April 2011
 
CD Review by Terrell Homes-The New York City Jazz Records
​March 2011
CD Review by Mark Keresman-Jazz Inside Magazine
February 2011
By Mark Keresman

From Japan, pianist Mamiko Watanabe currently
makes New York City her home base. A bit of
background: Watanabe has been playing since age
four and studied at the Berklee College of Music,
during which time she won awards for her emerging
improvisational skills. She honed her craft with
such swells as Joe Lovano, Tiger Okoshi, and Kevin
Mahogany. Mother Earth is the third disc under her
leadership, and it is a good one.
Her approach recalls bebop granddaddy Bud
Powell (with her ability to intelligently spin-out rapidfire
single-note lines with ease) and such percussive
pianists as McCoy Tyner (rolling, brisk) and Dave
Brubeck (“heavy" yet nimble). The opening track, the
title tune, But she can be delicate too – “Lake" evokes
minimalist key-crackers as Ran Blake and the sweeping
mainstream melodicism of Cedar Walton and the
late Gene Harris. But whatever mode she plays in,
Watanabe’s playing has a forward thrust, occasionally
fervent, always driving (except on the ballads, of
course), swinging in the classic hard- and post-bop
ways. Her take on the standard “I Remember You" has
the easygoing élan of Errol Garner, as does her beautifully
pensive original “The Moon Was Reflected On
the Sea," the latter featuring the silky, yearning, almost
Bobby Hackett-like horn-work of Kevin Louis.
The Duke’s “In a Mellow Tone" starts as a wistful ballad,
then works it way into higher gear, the rhythm
team of Ameen Saleem and Francisco Mela providing
lively, crackling, percolating support. The album closes
with the punchy, swaggering “Just Making It," which
evokes the proud, brassy spirit of mid-1960s Freddie
Hubbard and Lee Morgan without ever sounding like
them (or the ‘80s re-boppers, for that matter). “The
Murmur of the Moonlight" is a Gershwin-like panorama
– despite its dreamy title, it’s a brisk, up-and-at-
‘em-type of tune, something you might hear in a movie
soundtrack when Dudley Moore (himself a fair jazz
pianist) or Michael Caine is feeling top-of-the-world.
While it’s nothing momentous, Mother Earth
is a sterling example of a mainstream piano trio disc
– immediate, gregarious, stirring, and inspired, with
flair to spare, with no superfluous anything. Even
better, the trio’s collective technique serves the music
(as a whole), not individual egos. Like the best piano
trios, Watanabe’s threesome has the focus and interplay
of a working band. It’s a cliché, but if the shoe
fits, kick yourself with it, I say – Ms. Watanabe has
what it takes to be a jazz star.
Live Performance Review-All About Jazz
December 2007
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CD Review by Terrell Homes-All About Jazz
May 2007
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Live Performance Review-Jazz Improv Magazine
2007
By Joe Knips
On a drizzly evening in mid-March, I had the pleasure of listening to a fabulous pianist and her trio, in comfortable surroundings, while enjoying a terrific meal. The lounge at Kitano seats about 45 patrons in a tight, but comfortably arranged lounge on the mezzanine of this modern hotel. Located in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, the bar looks out over Park Avenue. Proprietor Gino Moratti makes you feel right at home with a smile as he shows you to your seat. I chose a light meal for my dinner, which consisted of the Asian Chicken Salad, washed down with a Brooklyn Lager-a fine match, and highly recommended. The only thing left to do was to relax and get down to enjoying the sounds of Mamiko Watanabe, Massimo Biolcati and Ferenc Nemeth. Mamiko introduced herself, and the pianist's quiet demeanor belies her powerful approach to the keys, as I was soon to discover.

The first set began with an original composition by Watanabe. "A Veil of Secrecy" is an up-tempo piece, with an arrangement that allowed for comments from the bass and drums. It was right into 4/4 swing for Watanabe's first solo of the night, where she took her time, being careful not to clutter things up at the beginning. Strong communication between Biolcati and Nemeth emerged while the two were engaged in egging the pianist on. Mamiko left plenty of space to allow things to happen, and I was immediately drawn to Nemeth's provocative yet tasteful drum work. A montuno gave way to a vamp figure, over which Nemeth unfurled polyrhythms and employed an aggressive volume that was not the least bit unwelcome in the low-profile room.

Next, the pianist set up what she calls her "favorite Jazz standard" with a Latin vamp. On this performance of "Here's That Rainy Day",Watanabe let loose some pentatonic McCoy-flavored runs over this vamp, her right hand slightly arpeggiating the chords, which added a lush quality to the opening segment. Her arrangement once again generously assigned hits and fills to her supportive counterparts. Nemeth was right in synch with Watanabe's left hand while her right danced freely across the keys. Bassist Biolcati took a strong solo with a big, woody tone, and lines that clearly showed respect for the arrangement. The performance gave a sense of strength in reserve, and provoked great applause. As someone in the audience shouted, "Yes, Ma'am!" 

The lovely ballad "Even If" began out of time, with sparkling keys, mallets rolling on cymbals and sustained plucked notes from the bass. The melody was rendered in a "1" feel that the bassist eventually transformed into a "2" feel, while Nemeth switched to brushes. The trio sustained a floating feel that let you hear them breathing as one. Nemeth and Biolcati made soft and subtle trasitions through each change in the groove on this great tune, one that I swear I've hread before...

Next up was a lively tune in seven. "The game is Ready" distinguished itself with a "modal" sound that included a montuno to set off Mamiko's solo over a single chord vamp. Nemeth quickly breathed life into the groove, pushing Mamiko to new heights as she sustained a pattern in her right hand, while her left hand developed ideas independently. After reaching a pinnacle, the band returned to the song's head, and then revisited the vamp as a backdrop to Nemeth's drum solo.Watanabe virtully transformed the standard "Beautiful Love", beginning with a solo rubato intro peppered with Tatum-esque runs in between the phrases. The harmony bore the stamp of a strong composer and arranger, who knows how to polish up an oft-played tune. Her right hand took over for a bit during her improvisation.-while the left hand laid out-creating sonic openness as she began sequencing a string of ideas, much like Herbie Hancock.

The penultimate "Jewel" was dedicated to a soon-to-be-wed cousin in Japan, and was rendered as a bluesy waltz. Echoes of Silver and Golson could be heard throughout the piece. The pianist accented parts of her phrases, evoking several meters at once. Later, even though her melody became a bit literal and obvious, she quickly dissolved the cutesiness with rich chards and looser time feel. The song's ending became an unsure moment for the players at first, but their shared skills and sense of trust saved the day.The set ended with another original, this one entitled: " Shadow". The fast, modern samba, featurred a pair of chords as a vamp, the third piece to emply a montuno, albeit briefly.

This woman puts on a real show: her set of tunes has a great flow, careful sequencing, no dead spots whatsoever, interesting arrangements and clever reharmonizations. Watanabe also chose strong musicians to carry the music to new and exciting places. There was almos no hesitation from the players, especially on the originals: strong playing, trust, generous interplay, and a shared sense of adventure. It was clear too that Watanabe and Nemeth really enjoyed playing off each other, and the pianist's compositions and arrangements allowed for just that ingredient. Thank you to the Kitano for a wonderful night. And to Watanabe, Biolcati and Nemeth: Thank you for letting us spectators onto your musical playground! 

 
CD Review by Jim Shulstad-jazzreview.com
2007
 
Pianist Mamiko Watanabe's double CD Origin/Jewel is a double shot of energy and execution. Ms.Watanabe explores Funk/Latin genres on Origin, and straight-ahead piano trio jazz with a contemporary feel on Jewel. One can no longer call Mamiko Watanabe an up and coming pianist. She is classically trained, studied jazz at Berklee, and has already performed with the likes of Joe Lovano, Kevin Mahogany, Bobby McFerrin, Tiger Okoshi, and Phil Wilson. She has been heard at numerous festivals and New York clubs, and is sure to go far with her stunning array of compositional abilities.
Origin reveals a worldly character in Ms.Watanabe. Incorporating African and Calypso rhythms, her odd meter grooves pulsate with Latin funk guaranteed to make you move your feet. The first track "Keep Moving On" sets the tone with the help of trumpeter Maurice Brown and saxophonist Karel Ruzicka, reminiscent of certain Brecker Brothers recordings. "A Little Piece for Dance" may be the most fun you will have all day, and "Smile" is exactly what happens from the next track, if not the whole disc.
All selections on Origin/Jewel are composed and arranged by Ms. Watanabe, except "Here's That Rainy Day"(VanHeusen), and "Beautiful Love"(Young), with of which are found on the Jewel disc. 
​These classic standards balance Ms.Watanabe's more contemporary pieces. Jewel is as much fun as Origin, but is more sentimental toward the straighter side of jazz.  Her treatment of the trio format is superb with each member contributing to the interplay of the intimate setting.
Unafraid to explore and incorporate different styles, Mamiko Watanabe plays and composes with passion and direction.  The tremendous personnel included on Origin/Jewel animate this passion to a high level of energy, fun, and sophistication.

Copyright 2020 Mamiko Watanabe

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