Berklee Today

Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Pianist Makoto Ozone Light Up Fall Convocation

Honorary degree recipients Terri Lyne Carrington (left) and Makoto Ozone, former Berklee classmates, revel in the moment backstage before the September 5, 2003, Entering Student Convocation.
Photography by Farnsworth Blaylock Photos

On September 5, a new class was initiated at the Berklee Performance Center with the entering student convocation ceremony. On hand to welcome the class were two distinguished alumni, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington '83 and pianist Makoto Ozone '83.

After introducing the evening's special guests onstage and in the audience, Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students Lawrence Bethune spoke philosophically about music to the new students. "The power of music can overcome any limitation, disability, or condition placed upon us by anyone or anything," Bethune stated. "Like anything powerful, it can be used for good or for evil, to help or to hurt. We hope that you will join together in harmony for your own growth and for the good of all."

Student Speaker Brandon Primus told the class, "Set your own individual goal and don't let anyone or anything stop you from accomplishing that goal. Stay focused and stay true to yourself."

From the left: Gary Burton, Terri Lyne Carrington, Makoto Ozone, and Lee Eliot Berk after the awarding of honorary degrees

President Lee Eliot Berk introduced the first honoree, Terri Lyne Carrington, and gave an overview of her musical achievements. He spoke of how Carrington began her studies at Berklee at 11 years of age. "More than a few of her Berklee peers were amazed at her musical prowess at such a young age," Berk said. "During her Berklee years, Terri Lyne forged musical connections with such greats as Kevin Eubanks, Mike Stern, Branford Marsalis, and Greg Osby that continue to the present." He chronicled her work as drummer on The Arsenio Hall Show and read a partial list of the jazz and pop greats with whom she has toured and recorded, including Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, and David Sanborn. He also cited her production work on the Grammy-nominated CD That Day by Dianne Reeves. Accepting the award, Carrington told the audience, "I've been on this stage in many capacities—as a student, as a professional playing with Herbie Hancock, and as a previous speaker at convocation. I must say that it is my greatest honor to be standing here today accepting an honorary doctorate. The years I spent at Berklee were critical to my musical development. I am very happy to be able to say that I can't imagine what course my life may have taken without Berklee."

President Berk then spoke about Makoto Ozone's 20-year career as a top jazz pianist and composer in his native Japan and in America. Berk mentioned Ozone's 13 albums as a leader and his collaborations with such artists as Peter Erskine, Paquito D'Rivera, and John Patitucci. He also noted his long and productive association with Gary Burton and his contributions to Burton's Grammy-nominated CDs For Hamp, Red, Bags, and Cal and Virtuosi. "For his contributions to the jazz legacy as a recording and performing artist, I am pleased to present the honorary doctorate of music degree to Makoto Ozone," Berk said. "This is the only place in the world, I believe, that you can study music in a way that can make you confident and proud," Ozone said after accepting the degree. "If you give everything you've got at Berklee, Berklee's going to give back to you."

The convocation concert kicked off with an instrumental by Associate Professor Ken Zambello titled "Blues Clues Blues," with solos by the organist, trombonist, trumpeter, and guitarist, giving the 13-piece Berklee Jazz/Rock Ensemble a chance to heat up. Highlights of the student performance included singer Kamaria Ousley's take on the r&b chestnut "River Deep, Mountain High," Christy Bluhm's scatting on "Hearing Ella Sing," and Jeremy Ragsdale's dramatic vocalizing on "When October Goes." Also noteworthy was singer Natalie Stovall's version of the pop country hit "Forgive."

Student vocalist Kamaria Ousley wowed the audience with her version of the r&b classic "River Deep, Mountain High."

The honorees joined the students on a few numbers. Carrington drummed on "That Day," a tune she cowrote with Dianne Reeves and also played her instrumental "Jazz Is a Spirit." Ozone and Gary Burton took the stage to play a duet version of Ozone's "Times like These." They then invited Carrington and student bassist Bryan Ladd back for an all-star jam on "All the Things You Are."

The show closed with a funky send-up of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" that brought out all four of the student lead vocalists to trade lines before taking their final bows. With the band still blowing, the curtain came down and a new academic year at Berklee was officially launched.