New review of CD
The following review of my new CD, written by Jenny Game-Lopata was just published in Music Forum magazine.
Keeping The Standards was recorded live at the Basement in Sydney marking the culmination of a collaboration between Isaacs, Nussbaum and Anderson that took them to Finland in 2002 for the Pori International Jazz Festival. The same year,they performed for the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz. Primarily known to us as a composer and performer of his own compositions, Isaacs delivers 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. Anderson lives up to his reputation with an omnipresence that fulfils much more than a support role. His ideas contribute significantly to the direction and mood of the music. Regardless of the twists and turns Isaacs takes, Anderson is right there suggesting possibilities and directions. The five well structured tracks display ample contrast to sustain the listener’s interest.(A compendium of quotes from all the reviews to date here).
Skylark opens with a soft unmetered piano improvisation that eases into a sensitive interpretation of this classic ballad. Isaacs soon moves his solo convincingly into double time and a swing feel that takes the piece to a dizzy climax peppered with the blues.
In Gone With The Wind Anderson and Nussbaum reveal the fruits of their long collaboration trading eights, fours then twos with great humour and dexterity. Isaacs then tears in to his solo with energy - a highlight for me has Isaacs playing semiquavers with his right hand and an atonal countermelody in crochet triplets with his left.
Footprints has an easy tempo and opens with an unaccompanied, contemplative bass solo. Anderson’s phrasing is well constructed and melodic. It is interesting to note that Wayne Shorter, composer of this classic jazz standard, released an up-tempo live version of this piece on his acclaimed Footprints-Live CD the same year Isaacs recorded his version. Isaacs places his own stamp on the tune characteristically building his solo from sparse to intense and utilising surprising contrapuntal and rhythmic ideas to propel this modal classic.
A solo unmetered piano head shifts unexpectedly into a 2/4 interpretation of the fast waltz Falling in Love with Love. 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.
The moving finale, Somewhere is perhaps the least well-known track on the CD. This tune in particular reveals Isaacs’s twentieth century classical influences, as he allows them to filter freely through his improvisations. Nussbaum displays a keen timbrel and dynamic sensitivity throughout the pedal vamp that concludes the piece.
Isaacs, Nussbaum, and Anderson are doing more than Keeping the Standards, they are surely raising them.