268

Mark Isaacs: Resurgence

John Kelman By
Published:
Views: 5,415
Mark Isaacs: Resurgence
After two albums exploring jazz standards and popular contemporary music—Keeping the Standards (Vorticity, 2004) and —Visions (Vorticity, 2006)—Australian pianist Mark Isaacs returns to original composition on Resurgence. A fixture on the Sydney scene, Isaacs has recruited his dream band for a strong program of contemporary mainstream jazz..

Isaac's American compatriots—bassist Jay Anderson, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and, on select tracks, woodwind multi-instrumentalists Bob Sheppard and Steve Tavaglione—have often intersected, but not all together in one room at the same time. Isaacs' inclusion of one fellow Aussie is significant—guitarist James Muller, a musical chameleon as capable of the Scofield/Metheny-esque on his own Kaboom (Birdland, 2006), as he is pedal-to-the-metal fusion on drummer Chad Wackerman's Legs Eleven (Self-Published, 2004). Muller played on Isaacs' wonderful Closer (Naxos Jazz, 2000), but a lot has changed since then. Muller's voice has emerged more distinctly and, while he's still the amalgamation of a great many parts, the whole is now clearly greater than its sum.

Isaacs' primary strengths lie in strong melodism and a harmonic underpinning that's rich and complex without sacrificing accessibility. For those who feel that jazz is inherently difficult to fathom, tracks like the elegant ballad "Pentimento" and Latin-esque "Three Days of Rain" are as listenable as they come, despite multifaceted solos from Isaacs and Tavaglione filled with color and depth.

The album starts on a relatively relaxed note with the balladic yet ultimately grooving "Walk a Golden Mile" and the mid-tempo swing of "Waltz for Melanie," featuring a brief but memorable soprano solo from Sheppard. The tracks range from four to six minutes in length which means that, while there's solo space afforded to everyone, nobody gets to overstay their welcome. Sometimes enforcing fixed solo lengths push the players to make the most of the time they have.

The pace begins to pick up with the bluesy "Chaconne," where Isaacs injects the occasional dissonance to put things the slightest bit off-kilter. Colaiuta, normally known as a powerhouse drummer in rock and fusion surroundings, demonstrates the ability to keep things light on the first half of Resurgence, but opens up with greater dynamics here, on the up-tempo title track, and on the thematically challenging set closer, "Heal Thyself" which, with its firm backbeat and Muller's grittier tone, could easily fit onto a Yellowjackets record. Muller's solo, an exhilarating mix of bluesy bends and lightning fast runs, is just one more reason why his lack of visibility isn't just curious; it's downright criminal.

As is also true for Isaacs. With Resurgence the pianist makes it clear that he's a writer who understands balance and a player who knows the meaning of context and development. There's no posturing or meaningless displays on Resurgence—just fine writing, compelling playing and a group sound that's all the more remarkable for it being a one-time event.


Track Listing: Walk a Golden Mile; Waltz for Melanie; Three Days of Rain; Affectionately Yours; Chaconne; Resurgence; Pentimento; Heal Thyself.

Personnel: Mark Isaacs: piano; James Muller: electric and acoustic guitar; Jay Anderson: acoustic bass; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Bob Sheppard: soprano, alto and tenor saxophones (1, 2, 4, 8); Steve Tavaglione: tenor saxophone and flute (3, 5-7).

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ABC Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Duende
Duende
Gracemusic
2013
buy
Aurora
Aurora
Gracemusic
2011
buy
Tell It Like It Is
Tell It Like It Is
ABC Jazz
2010
buy
Tell It Like It Is
Tell It Like It Is
ABC Jazz
2009
buy
Resurgence
Resurgence
ABC Jazz
2007
buy
Visions
Visions
Vorticity Music
2006
buy
Dave Brubeck Dave Brubeck
piano
Michael Brecker Michael Brecker
sax, tenor
Ulf Wakenius Ulf Wakenius
guitar
Benny Golson Benny Golson
sax, tenor
Larry Coryell Larry Coryell
guitar
Dave Liebman Dave Liebman
saxophone
Branford Marsalis Branford Marsalis
saxophone
Kenny Barron Kenny Barron
piano
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google banner ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Fund All About Jazz's Future