Mark Isaacs: Solo Piano “EXTEMPORE”:
“Here were dialogues to restore the faith. As the world crumbles into vulgarity, vitriol and worse, one felt blessed – privileged, even – to hear solo performances by pianists of the calibre of Mark Isaacs” SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, October 2017
Mark Isaacs’s solo piano extemporisations are uplifting outpourings of pure melody and raw energy that draw on classical, jazz, grooves, and folkloric traditions, all masterfully shaped by the fertile creative mind of one of Australia’s most acclaimed composers and jazz musicians.
Mark writes symphonies, concertos, plays classical piano and conducts orchestras.
Classical music luminary Vladimir Ashkenazy described Mark’s classical work as “masterful” and “highly inventive and inspiring”.
At the same time, his brilliant jazz output has seen him collaborating with some of the most legendary international jazz stars, recording numerous lauded albums with two ARIA Award nominations, and touring the world including major festivals.
Jazz master Pat Metheny described Mark as “A serious musician looking to solve deep questions” and the Los Angeles Times spoke of his “splendid musical mind”.
In playing solo piano in this way – says Sydney Morning Herald’s Walkley Award-winning music writer, John Shand – Mark is “heightening the intimacy and spotlighting [his] humanity and distinctive touch”.
Mark Isaacs’ solo shows in Sydney and Melbourne music venues have been a sensation, and in August 2018 he opened the Extended Play festival of new music at City Recital Hall, Sydney, with a solo performance. Reviewing it in The Australian, classical music critic Murray Black said:
“Mark Isaacs’s ingenious, extended extemporisations at the piano thrillingly kicked off proceedings”
As well as his passionate musical life, Mark is a trained and accredited telephone crisis counsellor for Lifeline Australia, an extension of the mission of “reaching out, and listening” that he sees lying at the very core of the music.
Matt McMahon – Solo Piano Performance
Matt McMahon’s first solo piano album was released in 2015 to great interest from the jazz press. Drawing from a diverse range of influences he improvises freely at the piano drawing from all of his interests and experiences.
“I doubt there is another Australian player who routinely turns up in such diverse contexts. As well as being a preeminent pianist in jazz and freer improvisational contexts McMahon has played folky pop with singer-songwriter Robyne Dunn, traditional Irish songs with his late brother Michael, Korean-flavoured music with Simon Barker, the challenging Arabic-infused compositions of oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros, flamenco with Bandaluzia Flamenco, funk with Steve Clisby, Peter Sculthorpe’s music with Phil Slater and much more.” (John Shand – Jazz.org.au)
“Multi-award-Winning Sydney pianist Matt McMahon, although widely known as one of Australia’s foremost jazz pianists, has played in a bewildering variety of other genres through the years… McMahon improvises various ideas, letting each sound follow the previous one in pieces that are movingly introspective, flowing easily from each section on to the next.” (John McBeath – The Australian)
“As regards The Voyage of Mary and William, a solo piano work dedicated to the pianist’s Tipperarian ancestors, suffice to say that this is one of the most singular and sublime solo piano recordings my ears have experienced in a great while. Matt McMahon is without a doubt one of the most accomplished and creative pianists ever to emerge from the tenderloins of the antipodes. All that should occur here occurs, and all that needn’t does.” (Daniel Rorke – Jazz.org.au).
“McMahon’s playing is ravishing” John Shand – Sydney Morning herald”