Born into a musical family in Tokyo, Japan. Nobuo Watanabe took his first piano lessons at the age of six. After submerging himself in classical music for ten years, he began exploring the world of Jazz by listening to the recordings of the early masters such as Paul Whiteman, Duke Ellington and Bix Beiderbecke. Later interested in Bebop, he learnt improvisation by attending masterclasses of the bebop legend Barry Harris. He has performed at numerous jazz clubs and festivals in Japan since 2010.
In 2014, he moved to Graz to study jazz piano performance at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz with Prof. Olaf Polziehn. He received his Bachelor’s degree with distinction in 2019 and is currently enrolled in a Master’s programme in jazz composition and arrangement with Prof. Ed Partyka.
He leads a 10-piece Prohibition Orchestra, dedicated to performing the music of the 1920s, as an arranger and pianist. In addition to his projects ranging from a duo, trio to the orchestra, he performs as a sideman with Prohibition Stompers and other traditional jazz and swing bands.
As a skilled arranger, Nobuo has scored for various ensembles and projects such as Jugend Jazzorchester Steiermark, a youth big band in Graz, a Viennese ensemble philharmonix, and for a styriarte 2017 festival production Ginger & Fred.SOAP.
As a composer, he has recently been chosen as a finalist of Jazz Comp Graz 2020, a triannual competition for contemporary jazz composition.