Live at the Berklee Performance Center

Makoto Ozone / Phil Wilson

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Live at the Berklee Performance Center Review

by Ken Dryden

Berklee has produced numerous jazz alumni who have made a name for themselves as instrumentalists and bandleaders, though few seem to be recorded while still studying there. This 1982 concert pairs veteran trombonist and longtime Berklee faculty member Phil Wilson with the talented young pianist Makoto Ozone, who was only 21 at the time of the performance. Yet Ozone demonstrates an incredible depth of knowledge for his tender age, fusing the influences of earlier greats with his own developing style, becoming a superb partner for the wily Wilson. The delicious opener, "Stella by Starlight," with flashes of Oscar Peterson during his heyday in Ozone's playing, is an obvious highlight. Wilson's vocal-like solo is sensitively backed by the younger player, while the duo has plenty of fun diving into Ray Brown's playful "Gravy Waltz." Perhaps the biggest surprise is to hear Ozone venture into vintage jazz with Wilson, engaging in some slick stride piano in "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me." The two men pull out all the stops in their rapid-fire interpretation of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Previously issued on LP with limited distribution, this Capri CD reissue reveals the strength of a seasoned trombonist and the promise of an emerging pianist who has made a mark of his own in the decades following this concert.

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