Pianist/keyboardist, composer and arranger Isamu McGregor has established himself as an in-demand musician across a wide range of genres, from jazz to pop/R&B to hip hop. Described as “a pianist for the new generation” (Tony Moreno) and a “jazz pianist and keyboard player of the first order” (LiveUnsigned.com), Isamu leads or MD’s a number of bands while maintaining a busy performance schedule as a sideman. He plays his original music – a unique blend of modern jazz, fusion, hip hop and funk – with his electric quartet Aquarium Test, while also composing music for various groups, from pop/R&B bands to large jazz ensembles.
Over the years, he has had the good fortune to perform with a “dizzying variety of collaborators” (theJazzMann.com), including Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Keith Carlock, James Genus, GZA (Wu-Tang Clan), Tortured Soul, Bennie Maupin, Ari Hoenig, Virgil Donati, Lenny Pickett, Stefon Harris, Francisco Mela, Anthony Crawford, Larry Koonse, Evan Marien, Dana Hawkins, Felix Pastorius, Justin Brown, Panagiotis Andreou, Gene Coye, Tony Moreno, Francesco Bearzatti and many more.
Isamu was born into a musical family in Los Angeles, California on September 5, 1989. To find out what other cool things happened on that exact day, click here! (Isamu regrets that Paula Abdul had a Number-One hit on the day of his birth, and he promises that it in no way influenced his musical upbringing)
He began taking classical piano lessons at the age of 5, and continued to do so for the next 10 years. While he was in middle school, Isamu’s dad brought home a “jazz” CD – Greg Mathieson’s “Live at the Baked Potato“, featuring Michael Landau, Abraham Laboriel and Vinnie Colaiuta. It took a while for Isamu to believe his dad when he was told that this was “jazz”. In his mind, jazz was the mainstream stuff you heard on the radio – swingin’, straight ahead, old-school. But this was crazy and loud, rhythmic and obscenely groovy! It was this record in particular that piqued his interest in the inherent possibilities of jazz music.
Over the course of his four years at high school, Isamu eventually switched from classical piano to jazz full-time. His classical training, along with a strong ear, helped him progress rapidly, both as a player and a composer. Musical influences from these years are all over the map, from Art Tatum to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Herbie Hancock to Led Zeppelin to Lenny Kravitz to Rage Against the Machine (for those more intimate moments). It was this fusion of so many different musical interests that helped Isamu begin to shape his unique sound on the piano.
In 2007, Isamu moved to New York City to study jazz at New York University. Immersing himself in the jazz mecca of the world was a humbling and influential experience, and it inspired him to go shed! He honed his craft under the tutelage of a number of great musicians, including Jean-Michel Pilc, Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Francesco Bearzatti, Greg Burk, Andy Milne, Don Friedman, Tony Moreno, Ralph Lalama, Martin Wind and Ralph Alessi.
Isamu has performed at many bangin’ venues with a wealth of different artists, including the 55 Bar (NYC), the Blue Note (NYC), Birdland (NYC), Baked Potato (LA), the Iridium (NYC), Smalls (NYC), Best Buy Theater (NYC), the NAMM Show (Anaheim, CA), Blue Whale (LA), House of Blues (Boston), Electric Factory (Philly), Jazz Gallery (NYC), Blue Note Milan (Italy), Torrione Jazz Club (Ferrara, IT), Catalina Jazz Club (LA), BB King’s (NYC and LA), Bowery Ballroom (NYC), City Winery (NYC), The Rex (Toronto), Cliff Bell’s (Detroit), Gramercy Theater (NYC), Key Club (LA), and Nuyorican Poets Cafe (NYC). His music has been featured on a nationally televised HGTV special, and he has also spent time with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines touring throughout Europe.
Future plans include an electronic-music EP under the pseudonym “Amorphous Paraphernalia”, a Weird Al-esque parody album (with Isamu playing all the instruments), domestic/international touring with various groups, and occasionally sleeping.
Isamu is proud to to be an artist endorser for Nord keyboards.
Isamu is available for Private lessons.
Please call (212) 741-0091 extension: 104 for availability.