WE LIKE IKE
The late Ike Isaacs’ supple interweaving of beautifully-voiced chords and melodic lines laden with a pensive longing made him beloved by such guitar giants as Jim Hall and George Benson. Because the Rangoon-born Isaacs, who became preeminent in British jazz before moving to Australia, would have turned 100 on December 1, the acclaimed pianist/composer Mark Isaacs (Ike’s nephew) and producer Roger Frankham compiled this album of tributes.
Inevitably the quality among over 20 artists varies, but among many highlights Martin Taylor sparkles on a solo reading of Ike’s After Hours, as does the man himself on his own Starlight. The repertoire mostly consists of Ike-associated standards, with Carl Orr restoring some of the deep mystery to Round Midnight that’s too often airbrushed away, and Esmond Selwyn sprinkling magic over a gossamer reading of Stardust. Emulating Ike is not the game in hand, and a double-tracked Andy Brotherton’s grittier playing stands out on his own Acai Skies, while the fondly-remembered Mark Isaacs Resurgence Band (featuring James Muller) broadens the horizons on Bagatelle.