Amazon.com Widgets

Mark Isaacs: Visions (2006)

By Published: | 3,306 views
Mark Isaacs: Visions How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Mark Isaacs, whose impressive resume includes associations with jazz greats such as Kenny Wheeler and Roy Haynes, as well as extensive forays into classical performance and composition, presents quite a puzzler with Visions. While it's certainly refreshing to see a capable musician take on popular tunes written after 1960, the album ultimately yields mixed results.

Purists might argue that popular tunes written during the rock era are too harmonically static to warrant serious exploration. But such stasis certainly gives skilled improvisors lots of space and opportunity for inventive reharmonization and interpretation. Unfortunately, Issacs plays it safe, choosing to stick closely to the text of songs by James Taylor, Lennon/McCartney and Joni Mitchell, among others.

On the plus side, his trio with bassist Ben Waples and drummer James Hauptmann, has a very intimate rapport that makes tracks like Stevie Wonder's "Visions," "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Moon River" shine. The title track in particular is a very somber and sensitive interpretation of one of Wonder's most moving ballads. "Both Sides Now" has some interesting moments, but "Sounds of Silence," "Fool on the Hill," "Fire and Rain" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane" fail to go beyond anything but pleasant meanderings.

The eight selections on this disc were clearly chosen for their strong melodies, and in such a narrow context, Isaac and his trio indeed shows that songs often neglected by jazz musicians in favor of the standard book deserve more intensive scrutiny. But the overall effect of these performances is one of expectations unfulfilled. Each track sounds much like the next, without any meaningful dynamic contrast.

Mark Isaacs clearly has a great deal of love and respect for these classic songs—perhaps a little too much respect. I wince at referring to any work by a musician of Isaacs' calibre as mere background music, but unfortunately Visions, despite the best of intentions, fails to hit its mark.

Track Listing: Visions; Fool on the Hill; Both Sides Now; Fire and Rain; The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; Leaving On a Jet Plane; Sounds of Silence; Moon River.

Personnel: Mark Isaacs: piano; Ben Waples: bass; James Hauptmann: drums.

Record Label: Vorticity Music

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


comments powered by Disqus
Search
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mark Elf

Mark Elf

About | Enter

Stefano Bollani

Stefano Bollani

About | Enter

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Bandzoogle: GET STARTED TODAY - FREE TRIAL

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

Article Search