Until recently I had not heard of Makoto Ozone, which turns out to be my loss. Since then, I have purchased his two latest CDs, "Pure Pleasure for the Piano"(Emarcy 2012) and "My Witch's Blue" (Emarcy 2012). Both are excellent, both mainstream, and both feature some outstanding partners.
First, who is Makoto Ozone? According to his biography, he was born in Kobe, Japan in 1961, and his parents told him he began playing organ at age 2. He came to the piano at age 12 after hearing Oscar Peterson and was hooked. He began playing at jazz festivals while still in high school. At 19, he entered Berklee College of Music (1980) as a jazz arranging and composition major. While gigging in Boston, he met Gary Burton, with whom he has now had a long standing relationship on many CDs, and in 1983 he was signed to a contract with CBS and released his first CD "Makoto Ozone" with all original compositions. He joined the Gary Burton Quartet and played all over the world, and later recorded three more CDs for CBS as well as with the Burton Quartet. In 1989 he returned to Japan and while he recorded several CDs there, none were made available in the U.S. He has played with some great musicians like Peter Erskine, John Patitucci, Marc Johnson, and Paquito D'Rivera among others; and has 36 recordings as leader since that first recording in 1983.
He recently returned to live in New York, and with these two discs and live appearances I expect he will become more familiar to jazz fans here. But in the meantime, the two new discs are really lovely, similar in both being mainstream, but different in tempos, selections, and overall felling.
Now it's time to go back in the discography and listen to some more of Ozone.