June 14, 2024


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Interview with Makoto Ozone: If the intellect goes too far forward, it will interfere: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist Makoto Ozone. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Makoto Ozone: – I was born and raised in Kobe Japan (1961).  My Father was a jazz Organist (HAMMOND) and Pianist.  So, it was natural for me to pick up Jazz Music.

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

MO: – I started to play HAMMOND when I was about 2 or 3, then started playing piano at the age of 12 as I went to see Oscar Peterson and completely fell in Love with his playing.  I had a wonderful Piano teacher as I started to play piano.  I knew I needed to do serious amount of finger exercises in order to play piano properly.  I did many transcriptions of Oscar Peterson. I loved the clarity of his sound as well as his incredible technique.  As a result, I think I developed very clear sound for a jazz pianist.

Much later, when I was about 42 years old, I stumbled into the world of classical music and I became even more aware of deeper sound on the piano.

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

MO: – I also played a little bit of Drums when I started to play piano at the age of 12.  Rhythm is so essential to any music we play.  The best practice I had has always been to play with all those great musicians like Chick Corea, Gary Burton including genius drummers like Billy Higgins, Clarence Penn, Jeff Tain Watts, Dave Weckl, more and more.

JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

MO: – I personally don’t mind being influenced by any great music.  It’s a natural thing. Of course, I don’t try to sound like what I just heard or What I like listening to.  But If I hear something that attracts me, I want to get it naturally.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

MO: – Prepare long before your actual concert.  I try to eat right to maintain my good health which helps to maintain good spiritual dynamic. The most I seem to have good stamina to go through concerts even when I am physically tired. The Audience always gives me an incredible power to keep moving forward with so much joy.

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JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

MO: – I feel like my job is to project what I hear in my spirit on the keys to create a story that I like to share with the audience. For that, you need to be intellectual.  But if the intellect comes out too far in front, it would get in the way of bringing that story out of your soul.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

MO: – Sure! But I don’t normally take request. There are basically two ways to enjoy music, I think. Enjoy listening to what you know and see how the artist expresses or makes it develop.  Or Enjoy the thrill of listening to something you’ve never heard.  Both cases, it requires the musician to play and create a story that’s strong enough to keep the audience focused .

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

MO: – Being a member of Gary Burton Quartet was the most learning experience. He basically taught me everything about how to communicate thru music instead of showing off what I can do.  That for me is still the most important thing when I play, to LISTEN.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

MO: – Compose new songs that are creative and powerful and interesting to the first listeners as many of those great standard composers did.  And play them as you truly feel. Don’t try to follow what or how it’s supposed to be sounding.

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

MO: – How you live always shows up on how you play and improvise.  It’s so obvious.  As they say, you could never fool yourself to lie to yourself.  I try to be truthful to myself. That’s the only way I can be truthful to the audience when I play.

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

MO: – I want every individual person to realize it’s OK to have likes and dislikes.  But do not apply that on “right or wrong” subject.  Feeling likes and dislikes is a clear sign of us living. And I always appreciate that I can feel that rather than analyzing, criticizing, or evaluating it.  Enjoy those likes and dislikes.

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

MO: – Lots of classical music including that Rach 2 Piano concerto as I need so much inspiration to play it in a few weeks.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

MO: – Love and Unity.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

MO: – NOW.

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

MO: – I will simply keep on focusing on what I want to do next and what I can create next.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Makoto Ozone "Jazz meets Classic" | Events | Arts Council Tokyo

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