Pianist Makoto Ozone taught himself to play the organ while very young, made his first television appearance at age six, began performing regularly on Osaka Mainichi Broadcasting, and, after attending an Oscar Peterson concert at 12, turned his attention toward jazz piano. He moved to the United States in 1980 to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music; in 1983 he graduated at the top of his class and gave a solo recital at Carnegie Hall. He became the first Japanese musician to sign an exclusive contract with CBS.
Mr. Ozone has recently explored classical repertoire with conductors including Charles Dutoit, Thomas Zehetmair, Joseph Swensen, Alexandre Rabinovitch, Arie van Beek, Francois-Xavier Roth, Tadaaki Otaka, Eiji Oue, and Michiyoshi Inoue. He has played works by Gershwin, Bernstein, Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich with the NDR and NHK symphony orchestras, Orchestre de chambre de Paris, Orchestre d’Auvergne, Sinfonia Varsovia, and others. He made his New York Philharmonic debut on the ASIA / WINTER 2014 tour, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, led by Alan Gilbert, and was immediately engaged to reprise the work with them in New York two months later. The same year he gave the World Premiere of his own jazz arrangement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, Jeunehomme, with Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and appeared with NDR Radio Philharmonic and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
He also toured Japan with his big band, No Name Horses, and celebrated its tenth anniversary with a new recording. Mr. Ozone has collaborated with numerous other jazz artists including Gary Burton, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Branford Marsalis, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Christian McBride, Dave Weckl, and Mike Stern. He is a regular guest of classical music festivals including the Festival de la Roque d’Anthéron in France and La Folle Journée in Nantes and Japan. In 2016 he joined Chick Corea for the Piano Duo Plays “Acoustic” tour throughout Japan, including two performances of Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos with the NHK Symphony Orchestra led by Tadaaki Otaka.