If there is a single word that describes a typical Gary Burton/Makoto Ozone concert, it would be virtuosity. They improvise on just about any kind of music from traditional jazz and contemporary jazz, to tango and classical themes. Both musicians are stunning performers, always pushing each other to new and greater heights.
Vibraphonist Gary Burton is a living legend in the jazz world, a 2016 NEA Jazz Master, and the recipient of seven Grammy awards. He is known as an innovator for his pioneering vibraphone technique and his groundbreaking ensembles. Burton has announced that his 2017 tour with Makoto Ozone this Spring will be his last as a touring musician.
Makoto Ozone is the absolute star of the jazz scene in Japan and is a prolific composer and arranger, having composed music for dozens of CDs. In the past decade he has become a frequent guest soloist with orchestras in Japan and Europe, and is a regular guest soloist with the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony.
Burton, a seven time Grammy-winner, is a veritable jazz titan who, after more than 50 years of a life in music, remains remarkably relevant and vital. For the last several decades, Gary Burton has been one of the world’s foremost vibraphonists, pushing the instrument’s boundaries and setting an impossibly tall example for others that came in his wake. He is widely credited with innovating and developing the pianistic four mallet technique (as opposed to the standard two) which can now be heard throughout the genre. The self-taught Indiana-reared musician made his recording debut at the tender age of 17 (with Hank Garland and Chet Atkins) while studying at Berklee College of music. He joined George Shearing’s band in the early 60’s and later made waves as a member of Stan Getz’s band for three years, before forming his own quartet in 1967. A year later Downbeat awarded him the distinction of Jazzman of the Year, the youngest ever to receive that honor. Burton’s style was unique in that he brought elements of rock into his sound, and his blossoming diverse fanbase could attest to his wide spectrum of appeal. Such albums as Duster and Lofty Fake Anagram established Burton and his band as progenitors of the jazz fusion phenomenon.
Throughout the 70’s and 80’s Burton’s star rose, the vibraphonist gaining a reputation for introducing new talents to the jazz world, including guitarist Pat Matheny who joined the band before going out on his own storied career. His recordings featured Burton in a host of different settings and bands, one frequent collaborator being pianist Chick Corea, with whom he won four Grammy awards.
A large part of Burton’s career has been his long association with Berklee College of Music. Beginning as an instructor in the early 70’s, Burton rose to become Dean of Curriculum and eventually Executive Vice president. He retired from Berklee in 2003.
In more recent years, Burton formed a new band, the New Gary Burton Quartet, which young guitar star Julian Lage with the addition of drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Scott Colley. His collaboration with pianist Makoto Ozone has been going on for more than twenty years, the tandem releasing the classical-jazz hybrid record Virtuosi in 2002.
Recently Gary Burton penned his autobiography, “Learning To Listen,” which was voted Best Jazz Book of 2013 by the Jazz Journalists Association.
2017 marks an important year for this legendary jazz artist as Burton has announced he is retiring from his career as a touring musician, after completing his current USA tour and a tour of Japan. All of the performances in 2017 will be duet concerts with his friend and collaborator of more than thirty years, pianist Makoto Ozone.