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Mark Isaacs

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Primary Instrument: Piano

Born: June 22, 1958    

Mark Isaacs

MARK ISAACS “A splendid musical mind” LOS ANGELES TIMES

Australian-based pianist-composer Mark Isaacs (b. 1958) has pursued a unique and demanding career path that has seen him gain international acclaim in both jazz and classical music. Such diversity was nurtured in the crucible of a highly musical family.

Mark's uncle was the legendary British jazz guitarist Ike Isaacs, who worked for many years with jazz violinist Stephane Grapelli and was on friendly terms with many of the biggest names in jazz. Duke Ellington came for dinner one time and there were visits from George Benson, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel and many others. As Mark grew older he would have informal jams with some of the famous musicians who would visit the Isaacs household....
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MARK ISAACS•QUOTES

“The work of an artist capable of matching the rich elements of classical composition with the flowing rhythms of jazz . . the product of a splendid musical mind” LOS ANGELES TIMES

“propelled by a winning combination of sharp rhythms and lyrical melodies” NEW YORK TIMES

“The great modern Australian pianist/composer is no stranger to Moscow audiences . . pure, crisp and vehement . . I never thought that jazz was still so much alive” MOSCOW TRIBUNE

“Monstrously brilliant....a prodigious group driven by a charismatic genius.... put [Isaacs] in a pair of iridescent orange Converse basketball boots and he becomes a stage demon.... a composer and musician utterly unencumbered by boundaries who has a breathtaking aptitude for making feeling and experience audible” AUSTRALIAN STAGE ONLINE

“Isaacs, with every release, has refined his systematic approach to post-modernity jazz to the point that his sound defines what jazz should sound like at the advent of the 21st Century in the same way Joe King Oliver, Satch, and Bix defined New Orleans/Chicago, Basie and Ellington defined the swing era, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie defined be bop and Miles Davis defined everything else” ”There are many reasons why Tell It Like It Is is Isaacs' best and hottest jazz album to date, but the Resurgence Band's energy and acute interplay, mixed with some of the pianist's best charts ever, make it an album that deserves attention far beyond Australia's shores” ”Never does an Isaacs composition devolve into inane banging and clanging; this is music composed and performed for the listener, not at them. Wonderfully integrated, thoughtful and intelligent, Tell It Like It is continues Mark Isaacs musical journey, providing some of the best on the cutting edge of accessible jazz” “Like Jarrett at his best, what makes this set stand out from the plethora of piano trios covering the same material is the way that Isaacs re-imagines the tunes . . .bristling with fresh ideas and razor sharp vision, Mark Isaacs has talent to burn” “Seamless in conception, flawless in execution, exuberant in creativity . . . makes extremely complex music natural and accessible” ALL ABOUT JAZZ (USA)

“With each new release Mark finds a new angle of addressing his prodigious talents and I find myself looking forward to seeing what he will come up with next. There is a sophisticated musicality at work that is special and rare. He is a serious musician looking to solve deep questions” PAT METHENY

“In many ways Mark Isaacs’s personality could be compared with that of Leonard Bernstein•the same boundless energy, enthusiasm for a broad range of music, pianistic skills and passionate concern for the performance bring to mind similar impressions to those I received from the few occasions I was lucky enough to work with Maestro Bernstein” JOHN HARDING Concertmaster & Associate Conductor, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

“If Mark Isaacs lived in the United States, no doubt he would already be signed to a major jazz label. Isaacs reshapes the standards to his own imagination•which appears to contain vast reservoirs of ideas. Isaacs makes the interpretations his own, unlike anyone else’s” JAZZREVIEW.COM (USA)

“At heart, the work of a full-blooded romantic, though one with plenty of rhythmic vitality” GRAMOPHONE Magazine

“From the opening bar of this record you know it's going to be good. The pristine sound of the piano immediately grabs your ear” TIME OUT (London)

“an edge that opens doors to a wider audience” LA JAZZ SCENE

“Isaacs' piano playing is filled with complex statements of thought-provoking density ... this approach leaves him naked, baring his heart and soul on each line and phrase that resounds from his concentrated style ... a delight to hear” CADENCE (USA)

“Do the clocks run differently in Australia? . . Nothing in this production, conceived with painstaking attention to compositional detail, sounds over-hurried, agitated or anxious” PIANO NEWS (Germany)

“polished, confident and deeply accomplished . . . must rank with the world’s finest” “magnificently portentous outpourings” “intelligent, sometimes dark, sometimes thorny, and always bittersweet . . a hybrid to be enjoyed and welcomed as one might any new rose in the musical garden” “spellbinding listening . . . utterly beguiling” “Mark Isaacs is a composer for all seasons” “a New Yorkerish flipness and cleverness . .worked like a charm” “an assurance not common on the local scene . . . alive and vivacious” “The performance was so compelling to hear and behold it should have been filmed” “haunting beauty” “Isaacs was typically audacious, creating dazzling melodic figures and emotional peaks” “transportingly beautiful” “The sound came in slivering cascades, like the finest crystal being joyously dashed into a fireplace” SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“a gorgeous score” FANFARE (UK)

“He morphs the familiar into the unexpected. Great music, whatever genre, is about tension and release. This has it in spades” “One of Australia's most lyrical and evocative pianists . . . meticulous and reflective . . . sumptuous moments that need to be played over and over again . . . jaw-dropping work” “Leaves the listener gasping for breath” THE AGE (Melbourne)

“The world of Mark Isaacs is a strangely compelling place. Passionate, whimsical, joyfully erratic. . sometimes eccentric and always deeply thoughtful . . letting loose, overflowing with ideas” “Sumptuous Messiaen-like chord voicings….effortlessly tossing off blistering bop lines...Isaacs’s beautifully conceived improvisations” “gorgeous . . uplifting . . suggesting a kind of redemptive theme” “He moved through spontaneous harmonic changes that shimmered with beauty” THE AUSTRALIAN

“stylishly presented, gorgeously coloured and pithily to the point . . astonishing” THE ADVERTISER (Adelaide)

“Their interpretations avoid any suggestion of the prosaic and become pieces of rare and sometimes fragile beauty” “Another section on Mark Isaacs’s enchanting journey through music . . a deeply concentrated journeying into harmonies, rhythms, thought patterns” “reflective, contemplative, inspiring calm, contentment, an understanding that there is beauty to be seen, and heard, and felt” CANBERRA TIMES

“Taking on the challenge of finding something new to say with some familiar songs [Isaacs] succeeds brilliantly” THE BULLETIN (Australia)

“Mr Isaacs' piano playing demonstrated as wide a palette of colours as I can remember hearing” ARMIDALE EXPRESS

“Some of the most penetratingly beautiful music you’re ever likely to hear” “This quintet is so in sync with each other it’s as if they are sharing a single heart” DRUM MEDIA (Sydney)

“As ever with Isaacs, it is direct, concentrated and free-wheeling, as playful and serious as art can be” “There have been some hugely impressive jazz trio albums released in the past 12 months . . but none has made me smile as much this new one from Isaacs . . littered with moment after moment of superb timing and crack ensemble” “accessible, enthralling music . . dignified, lofty, yet warm beauty . . .a lasting pleasure” AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW

“Mark Isaacs confirms his standing as a musician with a style that's unique among his contemporaries. . . His vision is unique” “Isaacs' piano is one of the most distinctive sounds in Australian jazz” SHE (Australia)

“Beautiful melodies, body-shifting grooves and adventurous improvisations are all embraced . . deeply” THE PLANET (ABC Radio National)

“Isaacs is playing as nature intended, naked and with no strings attached” “The music rolled, sparkling, beautiful, brilliantly rhythmic” “from tranquillity to a torrent of energy and invention” ON THE STREET (Sydney)

“There is never the feeling that he is uncertain of his next move . . everything flows with spontaneity and vitality” COURIER MAIL (Brisbane)

“Numinous interpretations delivered with a measured grace . . .displaying all the beautiful reasons why the piano trio format is so bewitching and ageless” “inspired musicianship and superb compositional abilities . . brilliant . . it is the sure, inspired hands and mind of Isaacs that underpin the music’s success” SUNDAY HERALD SUN (Melbourne)

“magnificent . . . Mark Isaacs is a super musician” 24 HOURS (Australia)

  • Duende

    Gracemusic
    2013
  • Aurora

    Gracemusic
    2011
  • Tell It Like It Is

    ABC Jazz
    2010
  • Tell It Like It Is

    ABC Jazz
    2009
  • Resurgence

    ABC Jazz
    2007
  • Visions

    Vorticity Music
    2006
  • Keeping The Standards

    Vorticity Music
    2004
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CD/LP/Track Review

Duende by C. Michael Bailey

Aurora by C. Michael Bailey

Aurora by John Kelman

Tell It Like It Is by C. Michael Bailey

Tell It Like It Is by John Kelman

Resurgence by C. Michael Bailey

Resurgence by John Kelman

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