Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A criminally neglected album & quite possibly Burton's best
David J. Ohanlon | Lilyfield, NSW Australia | 12/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whiz Kids dates from 1986 - post Burton's earliest ECM work & before the move to GRP records which, IMHO & with notable exceptions (like the sadly out of print "Times Like These"), introduced a small element of "cheesiness" to Burton's work. In this context, Whiz Kids represents Burton at the height of his refined creative powers yet Burton has also always been prepared to spotlight (both in a compositional & performance sense) young up & coming talent on his albums (best example being a certain Pat Metheny on the earlier ECM albums "Ring", "Dreams so Real" & "Passengers"). Here the "young titans" in question are the outstanding Makoto Ozone on Piano & the tragically under-recorded Tommy Smith on Sax, ably assisted by the inimitable Steve Swallow on Bass & the relatively obscure Martin Richards on Drums.
The set opens with a melancholic Smith tune entitled "The Last Clown" with plaintive sax predominant for the first four minutes followed by a wonderfully lyrical Burton solo & a deep, introspective soulful one from Ozone - a wonderful piece.
Next up is a more up-tempo, almost whimsical number penned by Ozone entitled "Yellow Fever" which simply sweeps you along in a gorgeous maelstrom of Piano, Vibe, Sax & Piano (again) solos.
"Soulful Bill" returns us to the mood of the opener but with the Vibes more predominant than the sax this time round. In my opinion this is the best "tune" on the album & Burton embellishes it beautifully, playing all round it yet never losing its essential structure or essence. Smith's & Ozone's solos are again wonderfully tasteful.
"La Divetta" (Ozone) is again more up-tempo with probably the "wildest" yet still incredibly tuneful sax on the album.
The album closes with a tune by Chick Corea entitled "The Loop", allowing Smith, Ozone & especially Burton to really stetch out & also features a nice guitar break (by Swallow presumably?).
All in all this is a highly satisfying set worth checking out if you can lay your hands on it."
A great album... period.
CPB | New York, NY | 05/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many years ago (1986) at the Jazz Club 7th Avenue South in New York City I saw Gary Burton live with the same line-up as contained on this album (CD). I was floored. Makoto Ozone was a young kid back then and due to a small stage he was placed in the NE corner of the room while the other 4 members were on the stage in the SE corner. There was clearly 20 feet of space between them. When they sat down to play I figured the pianist in the corner was going to get lost, boy was I wrong, Makoto literally stole the show. Now mind you Gary is no slouch, nor is Steve Swallow, but Makoto was really fantastic. The NE corner of the room had immense energy. I remember clearly leading the small crowd in a standing ovation after one of his solos. I love this CD because it is not dated... When I listen to this CD I am back at 7th Ave South. This is not a "live recording"; I just simply mean this is an ECM recording and first rate for its time. It is crisp, clear and tight. As for the album itself...The best cut is La Divetta. Tommy Smith, Burton and Makoto Ozone all have solos. The song cooks, it has feverish energy. A very close second is a song written by Christian Jacob called Cool Train. This is a beautiful piece of music again played beautifully by Makoto Ozone. The other 4 tunes are all excellent... The Last Clown stands out in my mind as another highlight. This is a really excellent CD. Check it out."