Both my record company and I were disappointed to find out that Keeping the Standards
was not one of the five CDs nominated for Best Jazz Album for this year's ARIA Awards. Given the critical acclaim the CD has received both here and overseas it seemed quite anomalous. Oh well, one never knows with these things. Nonetheless, as a mini-celebration of the album's successes in the wake of the ARIA announcements I am posting these extracts from the reviews the CD has received both here and overseas.
“There have been some hugely impressive jazz trio albums released in the past 12 months - Mike Nock's Changing Seasons, Tord Gustavsen's Changing Places and Keith Jarrett's Up For It - but none has made me smile as much as this new one from Isaacs. It's hard to believe the three aren't old friends. They seem to enjoy telepathic connections. This recording is littered with moment after moment of superb timing and crack ensemble. This trio had an equally impressive grasp of large-scale structures. I hope plans for a reunion are well advanced.”
AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
“The world of Mark Isaacs is a strangely compelling place. Passionate, whimsical, joyfully erratic, sometimes eccentric and always deeply thoughtful, letting loose, overflowing with ideas”
“A true multidisciplinary artist who is equally at home with classical composition/performance, soundtrack work and jazz, Isaacs’s cerebral approach echoes that of Brad Mehldau. He is blessed with the same virtuosity and right/left hand independence, sometimes creating rich counterpoint between the two hands. But as intellectual as he can sometimes be, there is a visceral nature to his playing as well. Like Jarrett at his best, what makes this set stand out from the plethora of piano trios covering the same material is the way that Isaacs re-imagines the tunes - bristling with fresh ideas and razor sharp vision, Mark Isaacs has talent to burn”
ALL ABOUT JAZZ (USA)
"If Mark Isaacs lived in the United States, no doubt he would already be signed to a major jazz label. Isaacs’ follow-up to his highly acclaimed, but insufficiently distributed, CD, Closer, couldn’t have been more satisfying. Not only does the trio command instant understanding of each other’s directions, but also Isaacs reshapes the standards to his own imagination—which appears to contain vast reservoirs of ideas. Isaacs makes the interpretations his own, unlike anyone else’s. Keeping The Standards is an outstanding live piano trio recording. But just as important, it should make many more people aware of the talent of Mark Isaacs that numerous jazz musicians like Pat Metheny and Dave Holland already appreciate.
“Isaacs had never played better. Riding on such an authoritative and astonishingly buoyant rhythm section, he seemed to relinquish any previous need to try to "make" the music happen, rather, letting it flow lyrically and organically. A particular pleasure was the way he restored mystique to the songs by often just hinting at the melodies, so each piece seems to emerge as if from a light mist, rather than being immediately defined. It is Isaacs's finest recorded work to date.”
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
“The trio operates with the utmost agility, full of ideas, multi-faceted, atmospheric and tight. Isaacs’ piano runs never break down, his long, suspenseful lines, lavish creativity, the spotlessness in the realisation of the conceptual thoughts, the brilliant interaction of all concerned, all this makes this live CD a total jazz experience, even if one wasn’t in the audience on that given night.”
JAZZ PODIUM (Germany)
“They bring to their work familiarity and freshness, their empathy inspiring numinous interpretations delivered with a measured grace. Here are brilliant musicians displaying all the beautiful reasons why the piano trio format is so bewitching and ageless”
SUNDAY HERALD SUN
“The trio’s musicianship and Isaacs’s inventiveness make the standards fly. His power lies in his ability to put each standard through many re-inventions. He morphs the familiar into the unexpected and then repeats the process over and over again. Great music, whatever genre, is about tension and release. This has it in spades”
“Such a degree of organic integration that only major surgery could disturb it . . the intricate unwindings of Isaacs’ improvisational imagination . . formidable”
“A stunning performance of jazz standards. Isaacs takes the listener on an exhilarating journey that reaches the far corners of twentieth century jazz repertoire with fluidity and unpredictability. The result is a definitive contemporary statement. Isaacs’s impeccable technique allows him to execute his multifarious ideas with breathtaking accuracy. You can relax on the roller coaster ride with this trio, confident that all the structures are sound – it’s well worth the experience. Isaacs, Nussbaum, and Anderson are doing more than Keeping the Standards, they are surely raising them.
MUSIC FORUM Magazine
“You can hear the former child prodigy's intellect at play, with the emphasis on play, logically and sensibly spinning out the tunes and seeing how they look in various guises. It's as if Isaacs' mission is to show a tune all the different things it can be. As ever with Isaacs, it is direct, concentrated and free-wheeling, as playful and serious as art can be”
AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
“A gorgeous rendition, this is where the trio is at its most inspired: there is a sense that they are simply letting the music happen and you feel fortunate to be a witness”
“Their interpretations avoid any suggestion of the prosaic and become pieces of rare and sometimes fragile beauty”
“Taking on the challenge of finding something new to say with some familiar songs [Isaacs] succeeds brilliantly”