Upon first entering Bird’s Basement, I was immediately conscious of the crystalline sound of the piano, each unamplified note lingering in the space, untrammelled by its neighbours. The audience, in darkness, appeared hushed, as if intensely focused on the music: lyrical, melodic and restrained. As I was drawn into this music, I was conscious of its fragile delicacy, as Mark Isaacs mined the upper register, unafraid of summoning sheer beauty from his instrument.
So by the time he turned 20 his palm was etched with a future as both player and composer, as jazz artist and classical. This puts Isaacs in a very select company – Don Banks, Bruce Cale, Phil Treloar, Mike Nock and Paul Grabowksy come to mind – of Australian artists whose work has been taken seriously in both idioms, and he sees the twin careers as being mutually beneficial.
“Aurora reflects [a] … wide variety of musical influences and Isaacs emerges with carefully crafted and distinctive compositions which provide a range of different moods and plenty of inspiration for the soloists.”
Mark Isaacs generously took the time to share his five 2010 highlights with us, despite being in the midst of a busy time after the release of the Resurgence Band CD Aurora on 3 December. Here’s what made 2010 musically memorable for him. 1. This year I got to know the music of Australian pianist/composer/improviser …