Born: September 5, 1989 Primary Instrument: Piano
Pianist/keyboardist, composer and arranger Isamu McGregor has established himself as an in-demand musician across a wide range of genres, from jazz to pop/R&B to hip hop. Described as a pianist for the new generation (Tony Moreno) and a jazz pianist and keyboard player of the first order (LiveUnsigned.com), Isamu leads a number of original bands while maintaining a busy performance schedule as a sideman. He plays his original music - a unique blend of modern jazz, fusion, hip hop and funk - with a quartet under his own name, along with various side projects including Retired Pornstars (a loud underground trio), Future Gibbon (a Rhodes-guitar jazz/funk/fusion trio), and The Odd Men In (a more conventional jazz piano trio).
Over the years, he has had the good fortune to perform live with a dizzying variety of collaborators (theJazzMann.com), including Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Keith Carlock, James Genus, Bennie Maupin, Ari Hoenig, Lenny Pickett, Stefon Harris, Francisco Mela, Tony Moreno, Ron McClure, Evan Marien, Kat Dyson, Felix Pastorius, Panagiotis Andreou, Maya Azucena, Boris Koslov, Francesco Bearzatti, Gene Coye, Deen Anbar, Ray Anderson, Andy Gravish, Paul Safy Jr., Likwuid, Top $ Raz, Kurious Jorge and many more. He has also appeared on recordings with Lenny Pickett, Francisco Mela, Jean-Michel Pilc, George Garzone, Stefon Harris, Jimmy Scott, Jonathan Batiste, Maya Azucena, Kate Davis, Joy De Vito, Bernardo Guerra and Juliana Munoz.
Isamu was born into a musical family in Los Angeles, California on September 5, 1989. He began taking classical piano lessons at the age of 5, and continued to do so for the next 10 years. While he was in middle school, Isamu's dad brought home a jazz CD - Greg Mathieson's Live at the Baked Potato, featuring Michael Landau, Abraham Laboriel and Vinnie Colaiuta. It took a while for Isamu to believe his dad when he was told that this was jazz. In his mind, jazz was the mainstream stuff you heard on the radio - swingin', straight ahead, old-school. But this was crazy and loud, rhythmic and obscenely groovy! It was this record in particular that piqued his interest in the inherent possibilities of jazz music.
Over the course of his four years at high school, Isamu eventually switched from classical piano to jazz full-time. His classical training, along with a strong ear, helped him progress rapidly, both as a player and a composer. Musical influences from these years are all over the map, from Art Tatum to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Herbie Hancock to Led Zeppelin to Lenny Kravitz to Rage Against the Machine (for those more intimate moments). It was this fusion of so many different musical interests that helped Isamu begin to shape his unique sound on the piano.
In 2007, Isamu moved to New York City to study jazz at New York University. Immersing himself in the jazz mecca of the world was a humbling and influential experience, and it inspired him to go shed! He honed his craft under the tutelage of a number of great musicians, including Jean-Michel Pilc, Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Francesco Bearzatti, Greg Burk, Andy Milne, Don Friedman, Tony Moreno, Ralph Lalama, Martin Wind and Ralph Alessi.
Isamu has performed at many bangin' venues with a wealth of different artists, including the 55 Bar (NYC), the Blue Note (NYC), the Iridium (NYC), Smalls (NYC), the Jazz Gallery (NYC), the Blue Note Milan (Italy), the Torrione Jazz Club (Ferrara, IT), Catalina Jazz Club (LA), BB King's (NYC and LA), the Key Club (LA), Tea Lounge (Brooklyn), Nuyorican Poets Cafe (NYC), Shrine (NYC) and the Knitting Factory (Brooklyn). His music has been featured on a nationally televised HGTV special, and he has also spent time with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines touring throughout Europe.
Future plans include an electronic-music EP under the pseudonym Amorphous Paraphernalia, domestic/international touring with various groups, and occasionally sleeping.
Isamu is proud to to be an artist endorser for Nord keyboards.
[Isamu] has a broad palate of musical directions at his disposal. Whether acoustic swing, electric or free, he has a wonderful sound and vision...He is a pianist for the new generation. - Tony Moreno
It is a joy to listen to and watch Isamu make music. His musical gifts bring the music he plays to life and fills it with contagious enthusiam. - Greg Burk
Isamu has been one of my most gifted students at NYU, no question. I saw and heard him develop over the months in very impressive fashion, and as his confidence grew and his personality asserted itself, I realized that a major artist was taking shape in front of me. He is also a marvelous composer and a beautiful human being. The world is going to hear lots of amazing things from Isamu in the near future. - Jean-Michel Pilc
A highly sophisticated writer...strikingly imaginative and original ...a dizzying variety of collaborators - theJazzMann.com
McGregor is often lyrically gestural in the right hand, in a manner reminiscent of that other fusion keyboard pioneer, Chick Corea, while his left smoothly articulates bubbling jazz funk bass lines of the sort Paul Jackson made his own, and few other players have successfully imitated. - OliverArditi.com
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.