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Album Review

This CD features Gary Burton's vibes and Makoto Ozone's piano in ten classical duos with jazz improvisations. The two styles have never merged with more soul, spirit, or, well, virtuosity, and the material is rich and varied enough to please fans of both. It begins with one of Maurice Ravel's most popular compositions, Le Tombeau de Couperin, which in these masterful hands sparkles as it flows, reminding listeners why Ravel's harmonies inspired so many jazz musicians. The collection includes a thunderous Rachmaninoff prelude leavened with swing and a Latin feel, a Brazilian take on Brahms, the lush and passionate tango "Milonga," a gorgeous, extended medley from the opera Lakme with a familiar second part (arranged by Jay Kennedy, who worked on four of the tracks here), and a Samuel Barber gem where it's hard to tell the original from the improvisation. There are two beauties by George Gershwin, whose 1924 "Rhapsody in Blue" first collapsed the wall between jazz and classical music; Burton and Ozone add new bluesiness to his "Prelude No. 2" and comment brilliantly on his "Piano Concerto in F." On Sonata K20, they soften Scarlatti's starchy edges with sensuous Latin figures. In yet another pleasing segue — this CD is very well-paced — this is followed by a rare "Impromptu," all shifting, Debussy-like pastels until Ozone introduces some barrelhouse piano. The closer is Ozone's quiet, haunting "Something Borrowed, Something Blue," which was inspired by the project itself. Burton and Ozone produce a fulsome, totally satisfying sound, and their fluidity and grace are astonishing. Burton's extensive notes explain the selections and approach to each piece, deepening the experience. A stunning accomplishment, and highly recommended.

Customer Reviews

Pure Brilliance!

Simply one of the most spectacular jazz albums released in the past few years. Ozone and Burton undisputedly take the duo format to an entirely other level.

A Life Changer

Seriously, what can't Gary Burton do?!?
I seriously love this album! Great arrangements of pieces from all different genres and time periods, with brilliant improvisational sections for each instrumentalist to stretch out. Stylistically, it's a nice change; it's not strictly jazz, nor is it strictly stylistic to the era of the piece they're performing.
What's more impressive is how the two musicians phrase and breathe as one: check out how locked in the two are on "Capriccio II (Opus 76)." It's absolutely air-tight. Though there are two instrumentalists playing, they really are playing as one.
For me, the standout piece is the operatic medley from Lakme. I did not know such beauty could be achieved. It sounds like a talking point, but I'm absolutely serious. If you only buy the album for that track, it's worth it.
Seriously, a remarkable record. Makoto Ozone plays absolutely brilliantly, and Burton sounds as good as he ever has to me. Absolutely a top 10 as far as my jazz records go.


Born: January 23, 1943 in Anderson, IN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the two great vibraphonists to emerge in the 1960s (along with Bobby Hutcherson), Gary Burton's remarkable four-mallet technique (best displayed on an unaccompanied version of "No More Blues" from 1971) can make him sound like two or three players at once. He recorded in a wide variety of settings and always sounds distinctive. Self-taught on vibes, Burton made his recording debut with country guitarist Hank Garland when he was 17, started recording regularly for RCA in 1961, and toured with...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Gary Burton

Virtuosi, Gary Burton
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 2002

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