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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 it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.