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Masaki Watanabe About the Educator

Tokyo-based Vigier guitarist/composer Masaki Watanabe is a rising player who's seen the world through music. Masaki started his journey in 1995 when he relocated to Canada. There he met his first mentor, Frantz Gendron. Through Gendron Masaki was introduced to myriad styles of music and artists that set this young upstart on a path leading to a promising career.

Throughout all the music and players Masaki was discovering in his early years, it was Steve Vai who truly captured him. The second half of 1999 brought two life-changing moments for Masaki - meeting Steve in Japan and seeing Vai perform in Montreal for the first time. From those moments Masaki knew what he wanted to do with his life. Little did he know some of the musicians on that very stage with his ultimate idol would someday be involved with his path. And so the journey began…

In 2006 Masaki set out to broaden his musicianship through studying with the world's best. First stop was the US at the famed Berklee College Of Music, which served as the next turning point in his career. It was during his time in Boston he met drummer Mike Mangini (Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Extreme) and guitarist Chris Buono (Karsh Kale, Rodney Holmes Lithium Tree, TrueFire artist). With Mangini Masaki learned how to approach rhythm and how to visualize music through rhythm. Through extensive studies with master educator Chris Buono Masaki experienced immense growth in his playing through Buono's innovative and dedicated teaching approaches. Along with many other prolific professors as well as fellow students Masaki was coming into his own. Just before graduating Berklee in 2009 Masaki spent time with multi-instrumentalist Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa, Steve Vai) furthering his musicality under the guidance of exceptional artists.

2010 was the year Masaki Watanabe was ready to show the world what he'd been working towards. Releasing a two-song EP produced by Chris Buono Masaki made a bold statement with a pair of powerful tunes that aptly showed Watanbe was not just a player, but also a composer of music that would stay with its listeners. With a rhythm section consisting of Philip Bynoe (Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt) on bass and Mike Mangini on drums, this was a formidable debut release. Following the release Masaki embarked on a short tour of Japan featuring this stellar rhythm section. Soon after Masaki hit the road once again with Philip Bynoe, this time with Hiroshi Shibasaki (Abingdon Boys School) and Koji Hasegawa (Battle Cry). The EP release and the touring that followed helped solidify Masaki Watanabe was on the scene.