Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial


Makoto is a third generation Japanese American musician. (Not to be confused with Makoto Ozone the wonderful pianist from Japan) Makoto started playing guitar after rooming with Larry Coryell at the University of Washington in Seattle. Seattle is a unique environment for music and during the early sixties when Makoto lived there, there was a thriving music scene in Jazz, Blues, and Pop. He subsequently studied with Bill Connors (Chic Corea). With an interest in composition, Makoto studied music and composition with Davoud Johnson and Julian Priester. Makoto’s vision was to create Asian American music that reflected the diverse cultures that he lived in. In one side of the house on Sundays, he heard music from traditional Japan and on the other, the music of the generation he grew up with, from Jazz, to Motown, to rock and the blues. Growing up in Denver, country music was always in the air. As Evyind Kang, the alchemical musician from Seattle says, “I was always uncomfortable with the places I grew up in. I always felt like an immigrant.” Makoto grew up feeling alienated from the place where he lived. He grew up in Colorado during and after World War II, where the environment, was not friendly to Asians, because the U.S. was still at war with Japan. He ended up in Colorado because it was one of the only states, which would accept Japanese Americans after they were conditionally released from the relocation camps. It wasn’t until the seventies, when Makoto met a group of artists, writers, and musicians, who influenced his social process of identity that he was able to begin his musical journey. Evyind Kang’s Seattle Times article written by Paul De Barros, “Eyvind Kang: Prolific musician searches for spiritual sustenance”, helped Makoto to define the process of decolonizing the mind, which further shaped his artistic goals.

“Music is about one’s culture, and hence my search for a sound,” Makoto says. He now believes that his culture is no longer just contained in the music of America and Japan, but throughout a developing world culture. He is a voracious listener of music from all cultures. Culture is reflected not only in traditional music but also in today’s pop music. “It is a matter of being able to acknowledge different parts of humanity’s’ cultures and incorporating them into your own.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.