3

Isamu McGregor: Isamu McGregor: Live at the Baked Potato!

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Isamu McGregor: Isamu McGregor: Live at the Baked Potato! Keyboardist Isamu McGregor has fairly raced out of the blocks, playing or recording with guitarist Wayne Krantz, saxophonist Chris Potter, drummer Ari Hoenig, bassist James Genus, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and vocalist Jimmy Scott—to name but a few—while still just 22 years old. His debut as leader sees him lead his energetic quartet through territory that runs from funk to jam-band workout and from rock to jazz-fusion. All-original compositions bar one, the tracks vary between nine and fourteen minutes in the main, allowing room for maneuver, with extended vamps and adventurous soloing aplenty.

"Rainbows in Transit" gets the set off to a flyer. McGregor's touch on electric piano reveals Herbie Hancock's influence and he engineers a strong groove. Bassist Even Marien and McGregor lay down a repeating motif as the group momentum builds, driven by drummer Gene Coye's cymbal-punctuated rhythms. Versatile guitarist Deen Anbar moves from bluesy John Scofield-esque bite to metal-colored fluidity. The more spacious "A Simple Science" stems from simple bass and guitar motifs; McGregor jams on a riff, working it until inspiration leads him out, into a freer mode. There's a sense of the quartet waiting to break loose and, briefly at song's end, a heavy metal vamp allows just that release.

The ethereal intro to "When The Lights Fell from the Sky," with keyboards as soft as vibraphone, singing guitar tremolo and lyrical fretless bass, shows that there is a also great sensitivity in McGregor's songwriting. However, at four minutes there is liftoff, with bass leading the way. McGregor's extended solo—accompanied initially only by drums—flits between lightning-fast glissandos and jam-like riffing. When the quartet members slip in a hard groove is established and a drum feature rounds off a driving number. The Philadelphia Experiment's "Grover" pays overt tribute to saxophonist and jazz-funk/r&b legend Grover Washington, Jr. circa Mr. Magic (Kudu Records, 1975), with McGregor's feathery blues playing Bob James to Anbar's Eric Gale. Both solo passionately—as does Marien— on this heartfelt dedication.

"Theme Music from a Super Slow-Motion Fight Scene" is a gutsy jam-band workout, with Anbar the absolute star of the show. "You and Your Milky Ways" begins with a swirling, delightfully delicate Joe Zawinul-esque solo from McGregor before morphing into slightly one-dimensional funk jam. "Urban Dragon Slayers" is a hugely enjoyable rock number, featuring a quite epic guitar solo of Frank Zappa-esque proportions. The highly melodic "Big Sky"—with McGregor's solo the striking centerpiece—closes an impressive live performance.

Firmly established in New York as a keyboard player for hire—in just about any setting imaginable—McGregor is just starting out as a leader. Live at the Baked Potato! is a fine document of a stirring performance, but It will be really interesting to see a studio recording from McGregor, one which distills his ideas and arresting playing into more succinct, refined form. A bright talent, and a name from whom we're sure to hear a lot more.


Track Listing: Rainbows in Transit; A Simple Science; When the Light Fell from the Sky; Grover; Theme Music for a Super Slow-Motion Fight Scene; You and your Milky Ways; Urban Dragon Slayers; Big Sky.

Personnel: Isamu McGregor: keyboards; Deen Anbar: guitar; Evan Marien: bass; Gene Coye: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Amorphous Paraphernalia Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Black Art Jazz Collective - Presented By The Side Door Jazz Club" CD/LP/Track Review Black Art Jazz Collective - Presented By The Side Door Jazz Club
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "Outlier" CD/LP/Track Review Outlier
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 1, 2016
Read "Follow Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Kjølvatn" CD/LP/Track Review Kjølvatn
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 25, 2016
Read "Infinite Spirit - Revisiting Music of the Mwandishi Band" CD/LP/Track Review Infinite Spirit - Revisiting Music of the Mwandishi Band
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

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

Buy it!