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Mark Isaacs' last recording, Closer , was one of 2000's jazz highlights. This contemporary jazz bristling with fresh ideas and razor sharp vision made several critics’ top ten lists. Three years later, Mr. Isaacs returns to experiment with the fertile ground of jazz standards on his trio live recording Keeping The Standards. Recorded at the Basement Lounge in Sydney, the Aussie is joined by bassist Jay Anderson (most recently of Lynne Arriale’s fine trio) and drummer Adam Nussbaum (stix for Patricia Barber). The result is a cross between the best of Gene Harris' Trios and Keith Jarrett’s Standards Trio.
The Standards Project consists of six lengthy investigations of the American Songbook. "Skylark" opens the recital with an impressionistic bang that fades into some double fisted barrelhouse playing. "Gone With The Wind" signals a post bop surprise, with Adam Nussbaum making as much joyful noise as he can. Wayne Shorter’s "Footprints" receives a searingly introspective treatment, one that might have been expected from Bill Evans. "Somewhere" is the longest piece, clocking in at fourteen-plus minutes. Here, Isaacs explores fully the harmonic possibilities of the song.
Mark Isaacs has talent to burn, as proven on his previous contemporary jazz record, Closer, where he performed original compositionsand now he focuses on a standard piano trio playing standards. Keeping The Standards is the beginning of what this writer hopes is a full- blown treatment of the American Canon by an exciting talent.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.