Combining heartwarming ballads with up-tempo romps, Mark Isbell offers a pleasant, acoustic jazz setting where the listener can find the kinds of swing and syncopation that have given jazz its identity. "Jazz Influence” is among them. This soaring samba by Carlos Lyra affords a close-up look at the alto saxophonist’s light melodic approach and natural ease with rhythm. He’s “singing” through his instrument in a vocal manner, capturing all the nuances. The music flows. Solo improvisations by pianist, guitarist and drummer enhance the saxophonist’s performance, both through contrast and through resemblance. Isbell’s sound is all his own; and, it’s a beautiful tone. By comparison, the piano’s tone quality appears harsh on this release.
“Portrait of Jenny,” a personal favorite, and Blossom Dearie’s loping waltz “Sweet Georgie Fame” create goosebumps through their meaningful dialogue. Isbell and his all-star crew “speak” with a natural, conversational style. They’ve brought back the meaning through this program of chestnuts. Michel Petrucciani’s “Chloe Meets Gershwin” gives the band something different to work with. Emphasizing the syncopation of early jazz scores, the piece seems to shout “I Got Rhythm” with a modern appeal. Recommended, Jazz Influence offers a timeless portrait of the music’s history along with a close-up portrait of this superlative alto saxophonist.
Audio samples from four of the tracks can be found at www.markisbell.com.
Track Listing: I
Personnel: Mark Isbell- alto saxophone; Peter Sprague- guitar; Mike Wofford- piano; Bob
Magnusson- bass; John Guerin- drums.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.