“[T]hrilling, virtuosic and unabashedly personal”
New York Times
Makoto Ozone is a unique force in both jazz and classical music, blending sound worlds and a host of influences into his performances. Born in Kobe, Japan, he was self-taught in jazz, under his father’s guidance, first on the organ, then piano. He first came to public attention when he gave his solo recital at the Carnegie Hall in 1983, following his graduation from Berklee College of Music. Makoto then became the first Japanese artist to sign an exclusive contract with CBS and released his first album, Ozone, a year after his Carnegie debut.
His stellar career in jazz, which earned him a Grammy nomination in 2003, has brought him regularly to the forefront of the international jazz scene, recording and touring with musicians such as Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Paquito D'Rivera, Anna Maria Jopek, Branford Marsalis, and others. In 2004, he formed his own big band in Japan, No Name Horses, which has regularly toured to Europe, North America and Asia since its creation. In more recent years, Makoto has expanded into classical repertoire, alongside his jazz engagements. Having first performed Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue in 1996, he now performs concertos by Mozart, Bernstein, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov with major orchestras. Alongside his performing schedule, Makoto composes music, with over 300 pieces to his name, many for No Name Horses, as well as a symphony and piano concerto.
In 2014, Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic invited Makoto to join their Asian tour. Following this, he performed with the orchestra at the Lincoln Center, New York, in 2014 and again in 2017, from which a recording Beyond Borders featuring performances of Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue and Bernstein The Age of Anxiety was released. He has collaborated with a prestigious list of conductors including François-Xavier Roth, Marin Alsop, Alan Gilbert, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Lahav Shani, Thomas Zehetmair and Charles Dutoit and orchestras including San Francisco Symphony, Sao Paulo Symphony, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, as well as many orchestras in Japan, such as the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra and Sapporo Symphony.
Future dates in the 2018/19 season include Makoto’s debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Lahav Shani, Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin and Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra with Christian Arming.
Makoto Ozone has an extensive discography, releasing over 30 albums under his name and as a composer in solo, duo and trio settings, as well as performing as a collaborator on many others. His many awards include the Kinokuniya Theatre Award (2000), Kobe City Culture Award (2005), Fumio Nanri Prize (2007), Hyogo Prefecture Culture Award (2009), Art Encouragement of Education, Culture, Sports, Science Minister's Prize (2014). In 2017, Makoto received the Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon by the Government of Japan. This is Japan’s highest award to individuals who have made significant contributions to the nation’s academic or cultural life.
Rhapsody in Blue
Concerto in F
Symphony No.2, “The Age of Anxiety”
Piano Concerto No.9 in E-flat major, K.271
Piano Concerto No.12 in A major, K.414
Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K.488
Piano Concerto No.24 in C minor, K.491
Piano Concerto No.27 in B-flat major, K.595
Piano Concerto for 2 Pianos, K.365
Piano Concerto No.1 in C minor, Op.35
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43
Piano Concerto No.3 in C major, Op.26
Le carnaval des animaux（2 piano reduction）
Piano Concerto G major
Concerto for 2 Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra
Carlos Miguel Prieto
No Name Horses is a big band led by pianist Makoto Ozone and made up of leading Japanese jazz musicians, most of whom are band-leaders in their own right. No Name Horses was formed in March 2004, for the CD recording of Kimiko Ito’s album Once You’ve Been In Love (Video Arts Music), produced by Makoto Ozone. Although the band was initially a temporary ensemble, brought together for the recording, Makoto was convinced that the quality of the band’s sound was of a worldwide level and in March 2005, No Name Horses and Kimiko Ito did the one-month tour at Blue Note jazz clubs all over Japan, celebrating the release of the album.