Gary Burton – Vibraphone
Makoto Ozone – Piano
A lot of the jazz released
on DVD so far has been disappointing,
this is one is certainly an exception,
it is one of the finest jazz productions
that has been released on any media.
Burton and Ozone are both phenomenal
musicians and both sound and vision
are also up to the very high standard
of the music.
The interplay between
the two is fantastic; it is as though
they were guided by telepathic communication!
Most duos cause suspicion that the reason
for the lack of a full rhythm section
is more economic than musical. This
is not the case here; the duo is a complete
entity in itself, brought about by the
sheer brilliance of the performers.
Gary Burton has always
been his own man; his beginnings were
in Country and Western, although you
would never guess it. His playing acknowledges
what went before with Lionel Hampton,
Red Norvo and Milt Jackson, but his
own unique four mallet style, which
uses little or no vibrato, is firmly
established as the next phase in the
development of vibraphone playing.
Makato Ozone was a
child prodigy in his native Japan, before
moving to the USA to study at Berklee
College in Boston. Gary Burton was on
their teaching staff at that time in
the roll of vice-president. That was
how the two met and started co-operating.
Ozone is a great fan of Oscar Peterson
and it shows in his playing. He is a
master of all styles, his stride piano
is sensational and his ability to play
jazz as a solo performer is at a level
only achieved by Peterson in the past.
The musical programme
is also top class, it is a wonderful
mixture of old and new, which allows
both men to perform in a way that is
extremely interesting, but always accessible.
There are two Thelonius Monk numbers
to open and close the set, Monk’s Dream
starts things off and the set closes
with Blue Monk, both are classic demonstrations
of how Monk’s compositions lend themselves
to many interpretations. He would have
been a proud man to hear these musicians
at work had he still been with us.
Laura’s Dream is not
really a jazz composition, but the musical
performance is fascinating and the interplay
between the performers breathtaking.
Opus Half by Benny
Goodman starts with some great stride
piano from Ozone followed by an ensemble,
which really does swing like the proverbial
clappers. It is followed by a solo from
Burton that has all the marks of a great
jazz performer, what a contrast all
this is to the previous piece. Ozone
then solos and shows us he is well equal
to the challenge Burton has set with
his superb solo. Not surprisingly the
audience really go wild with their applause
at the end of this one.
The programme has two
originals from Ozone, Bento Box and
Kato’s Revenge, both make excellent
vehicles for the duo and both are good
themes in themselves.
I rate this DVD as a must buy!