Monday, February 27, 2006

"Visions" interview & review

The Jazz Australia website have just published an interview I did about Visions. Read the interview here (scroll down). Following is the text of a review of the CD by Michael Foster just published in the Canberra Times:
NAMED for the Stevie Wonder Tune that opens it, Visions offers achingly tender interpretations of eight tunes of the 1960s and ‘70s. It was a time for wonderful lyrics. Isaacs’ decision to leave them to the listener’s imagination and recall was brave, but admirable.

Most listeners who lived then will have their own memories, likely to be precious, made more so given this time to polish the dreams.

Those who are blessedly young will be privileged to discover for themselves the beauty of a time when songs were crafted rather than flung at the audience, here presented on a cushion of dreams by three musicians in seamless accord, two of whom are so young as to be exploring, rewardingly, for themselves.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I'm publishing my poetry online in a separate blog. Comments welcome

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pictures from the Residency

Photos by Jewel of our current cottage home and vista at Arthur Boyd's Bundanon where I am on a 2-week Senior Artist Residency

Monday, February 20, 2006

A punter's view

John & Vicki McGrath have been regular attendees for many years at my Sydney and South Coast concerts. Read their summation of the first concert on the Visions tour at Bundanon last Saturday
Here's a punter's view of Mark Isaacs's Visions launch held in the Shoalhaven.

As we wound down the steep valley road to Riversdale anticipation grew for what would be a special afternoon/evening of music. We were early and strolled over to the music room - the eye was drawn to the magnificent view. The room is perched on the side of a hill which looked straight down the Shoalhaven river, one side is banked by a tall tree lined mountain, the other freshly mown fields, at the bottom of the hill a wombat foraged in the lime green grass. The piano and drum kit were already in place, both taking advantage of the vistas. We grabbed some wine and sat on the grass soaking up the atmosphere, though a little worried about the dark clouds moving in quickly.

At 5 our host welcomed us and introduced to the 120 strong audience... on piano Mark Isaacs, Ben Waples on bass, and James Hauptmann on drums. Mark started to explain his ‘vision’ for the concert, it focused on his new recording, music of the composers of the sixties and early seventies, something he has wanted to do for a while now.

He introduced the first piece and stated it was a quiet piece. As Mark composed himself to begin, a flash of lightning and thunder crashed outside bringing a grin to the faces of the band members. With that dramatic intro the trio delicately explored Stevie Wonders’ Visions, then beautifully movied into Fool on the Hill. As is Mark’s penchant it took a while to work out it was the Lennon/McCartney tune. Mark’s partners played intuitively, drummer James Hauptmann totally focused on Mark. I believe this is one of Mark’s best bands for a while now. The set ended when the pace picked up on James Taylors’ Fire and Rain - the trio really worked out on this one, taking the song far from its origins.

The second set covered more of what I would describe as music of my generation, Simon and Garfunkels’ The Sounds of Silence, Roberta Flacks’ hit The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and unexpectedly John Denvers’ Leaving on a Jet Plane which was one of the most successful adaptions from the trio. They were starting to take more solos this set - the audience approved wholeheartedly. Mark should contact Qantas or Virgin Airlines with this arrangement, it would make a good signature piece for them.

The last tune was from the pen of Henry Mancini, Moon River, another beautiful arrangement, my Huckelberry Friend. Talking to friends after the concert one thing stood out and it was the respect Mark had shown in his arrangements to the composers of these iconic tunes.

The music, dramatic weather, scenery and beautiful music made for that very special afternoon. As the eternal optimist J.F. exclaimed ‘it doesn’t get any better than that’. As we left and the wombat crossed the road in front of us, I swear he winked at us.

John & Vicki

Sunday, February 19, 2006

National broadcast

For those who missed my live trio performance and interview on Radio National's Music Show re my new Visions CD & tour it's available as audio-on-demand here (select 18th February 2006-First Hour and you'll need Realplayer)

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I'm on the second day of my residency at Arthur Boyd's Bundanon. My wife Jewel and myself have a lovely quaint cottage set on a gorgeous property - rolling paddocks, cows grazing, blissful isolation. The cottage has a grand piano.

While Jewel paints, sketches and photographs I have set myself the following tasks:

  • Revising my Third String Quartet
  • Writing a book of poetry
  • Practising
  • Beginning the Visions tour with a concert here Saturday night
  • Reading, generally chilling after an incredibly intense few months and trying to lose 3 or 4 kilos.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Feature article in "The Australian"

Read it here

Monday, February 06, 2006


Very busy time coming up, I will be away from Sydney for a month.

This week I head to Brisbane to attend the Hot Nights Cool Jazz festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse which I curated. Tickets are selling very well indeed and it's possible a couple of shows will sell out.

From February 15-March 1 I will be an Artist-in-Residence at the rural property of the late great Australian painter Arthur Boyd at Bundanon where I will reside with my wife Jewel in a lovely quaint cottage on a stunning and huge retreat overlooking the Shoalhaven River and begin work on writing a book as well as doing some composing.

The first concert of the Visions Australian tour will take place at Bundanon itself on February 18 (I will be ducking back to Sydney that same morning for a live national broadcast and interview for the ABC), while the main core of the tour takes place immediately following Bundanon from March 2-7 where in a whirlwind of flying around this vast country we take in Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.