Vibist Gary Burton and Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone originally connected back in the early ‘80s at Berklee College. From there on in, the duo’s musical relationship flourished amid Burton’s various ensembles and related other projects. This footage is culled from a 2002 performance at Switzerland’s fabled Montreux Jazz Festival, highlighting the twosome’s unparalleled synergy. Shot in black and white, the musicians indulge in jazz classics and works by legendary vibe denizens, Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo and Milt Jackson. Burton also provides concise and insightful preambles to each song. And the artists also perform classical pieces with hefty doses of jazz improvisation. Nonetheless, they engage in melodically tinged arpeggios with disparate elements, including subtle hues, medium-tempo swing vamps, and multi-directional flows.
Burton’s four-hand mallet technique provides a rather dizzying visual element, where his amazing dexterity translates into mind-boggling precision. In addition, the artists toggle comping duties, underscored by their glistening contrasts. Ozone delves into stride, bop and Bill Evans-like flurries, executed within various cross-genre mechanisms. And on their reengineering of classical pieces, the musicians intersperse buoyant improvisational dialogues into mainstream classical/jazz fare.
Besides their technical mastery, they perpetuate gobs of movement to complement a series of mood-evoking dynamics. It’s a well-rounded program that emphasizes most levels of artistic communication.