Kaoru Watanabe, a Grammy nominated Brooklyn-based musician and composer, is known for artfully combining traditional ritual and theater musics of Japan with complex compositional and improvisational elements of jazz and other global musics. Kaoru was a performing member and artistic director of the iconic Japanese taiko performing arts group Kodo for close to a decade. Since leaving Kodo, Watanabe has collaborated with such luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, MaArthur Fellow Jason Moran, Japanese National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo and So Percussion. Watanabe has performed his compositions at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Whitney Museum and Kabukiza and maintains an international touring schedule, having recently visited Australia, Germany, Argentina and Brazil.
As a passionate educator, Kaoru has taught at such prestigious institutions as the Tanglewood Festival, Princeton and Wesleyan Universities as well as through kaDON, an online resource presented by Japan's most prestigious taiko maker Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten.
Master shinobue maker Ranjo has called Watanabe’s sound on the fue the “greatest in the world”.