Vibes player Gary Burton and pianist Makoto Ozone have a musical relationship that goes back more than two decades, an obvious rapport that will add some interesting angles to the upcoming Sheldon concert they're co-headlining. The son of a Japanese jazz pianist, Ozone had taken up piano and organ at an early age; he was working professionally and appearing at Japanese jazz festivals while still in his teens. In 1980, at the age of 19, Ozone left his native country to study jazz at the famed Berklee College of Music. Burton, who had studied at Berklee himself in the early '60s and began teaching there in '71, was one of Ozone's instructors. The two musicians became good friends, and soon Ozone was playing in Burton's quartet. By the time he was 20, Ozone had his own recording contract with Columbia.
Burton and Ozone continued to collaborate over the years, always seeming to inspire each other to perform at the highest level. Their 1995 duet recording, Face to Face, seemed to re-energize Burton after his release of several forgettable recordings in the early '90s. It also reintroduced Ozone to American audiences after he moved back to Japan in 1989. Since then, Burton has turned out a string of top-notch recordings, including a tribute to Argentinean tango master Astor Piazzolla and a wonderful homage to vibes legends Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo, Milt Jackson and Cal Tjader (For Hamp, Red, Bags and Cal). Not surprisingly, Ozone was part of both projects. Burton and Ozone's appearance at the Sheldon is sure to highlight work from an upcoming record (due out in a month or so) featuring classical compositions by the likes of Scarlatti and Barber rearranged in a jazz idiom.