Sunday, March 12, 2006

Yet another Visions review

Sydney pianist Mark Isaacs' strengths are his lyrical eloquence and ability to transport the listener to unexpected places. That makes the repertoire here, a collection of '60s pop classics, such a perfect space. Lately, there have been a few '60s-meets-jazz events but this is one of the best, thanks to the artist's imagination and bassist Ben Waples and drummer James Hauptmann. The trio takes the familiar and transforms it. The title track, a Stevie Wonder classic, is turned into an elegiac anthem. One of the two stand-out tracks, Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, is contemplative and complex as Isaacs colours it with modulations from outside the chord finishing in an incantation that goes right through you. The second is John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane, that for the first time ever really swings. And, as a final surprise, he transforms Moon River without a trace of the usual schmaltz. -- LEON GETTLER The Age


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