For the fifth time, the pride of Australia Mark Isaacs is back on tour in Thailand with his contemporary jazz outfit the Resurgence Band.
He'll be playing on Sunday at Thailand Cultural Centre for the 22nd in Krungthep Thurakij's "Judprakai" series of concerts.
For years the pianist and singer has been celebrated for his accessible take on jazz, featuring melodies that stick in the mind, strong arrangements and jazz-fusion elements.
He's backed by the virtuoso electric guitar of the award-winning James Muller, the saxophonist Matt Keegan, bassist Bret Hurst and drummer Tim Firth, who together make up the Resurgence Band. Isaacs found time for a scat with Weekend.
How are you, and what are you up to now?
I'm feeling great and really energised.
I've been involved in the arrangements for our upcoming tour, and other tours later in the year - a lot of time at the computer - so now I'm really thirsty to go on the road and spend some time at a piano keyboard!
How do you like performing in Thailand?
I first played in Thailand in 1982 when I was a very young member of the great Australian saxophonist Errol Buddle's band, but I toured under my own name in 2000, 2002 and 2005. I really love coming to Thailand. I feel a quality of dignity and receptiveness that allows me to express what I want with my music. And I love the food.
My aunt, Charmaine Solomon, is a cookery writer who introduced Thai and other Asian food to Australia and the West at a time before we had so many wonderful restaurants.
Touring is about music and people first. Then food!
What will the show be like this time?
I've written some new tunes I'm really proud of, and the guys play them really well. My guitarist James Muller is just a star! The music mixes jazz with soul, gospel, R&B, classical, blues and Latin. It's really about beautiful melodies and exciting solos, with bright, thrilling, soulful - even sexy - moods.
You'll be doing three shows here. Are they all different?
We'll play a similar programme, but some shows are longer, so we can play more material. But because it's jazz, we never play the same song the same way twice! We're also very excited about going to Chiang Mai. I've only ever visited Bangkok.
What do you think of the jazz scene now?
I think that world-wide culture is inclined to discourage people from listening with their hearts and souls. Firstly the culture is very visual. Secondly, there's too much music, everywhere you go and people have it all the time on their iPods and computers and CD players. So this makes live concerts seem less special. I want people to come to my concerts because they will experience things they never would otherwise. And because they've made the effort to show up, not just put their headphones on, they'll almost taste and smell the music, and experience all the interactions and joy that go on between the members of a great band. You can't get it with an iPod, not even with a DVD. You have to show up!
What do you think of Thai musicians?
I've had the chance to play with a couple of Thai musicians and also help teach students. I sense that music is very important in Thailand. I am thrilled to know that the King himself loves jazz and plays it. I would love to have the honour of meeting him one day. But I also look forward to meeting the students who will come to the workshops we will do on this trip. Music is about sharing, and I hope to share whatever I can.
How do you get inspired to work on your music?
If I didn't work on it, it would be like throwing away a gift God gave me. I work on my music as a duty, a passion, a calling, a love, a joy. Sometimes it's frustrating and hard, sometimes my heart sinks when I feel I've lost my way. But this is life. There are some things that are just a part of us, like family, parents, our spouse, our children. Sometimes it's difficult, but if you're a human with a sense of honour, you devote yourself to your family. And it is the same with my music. How could I not do it, and still live a life of meaning?
Do you have any message for your fans here?
I promise that I will offer you the very best of my heart, soul and mind. And the guys in my band will be doing the same.
It will be a privilege to play for you, and we want to make your
Mark Isaacs' Resurgence Band is giving three shows:
August 4, 10pm onwards at Living Room, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (BTS: Asoke)
Tickets are Bt1,200, which includes two drinks. For information call (02) 649 8353;
August 5, 5pm at Thailand Cultural Centre (Small Hall)
Tickets are Bt500, available at Thaiticketmajor;
August 8, the performance at Payap University, Chiang Mai is not yet confirmed. For more information call (053) 851 478.