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 "jazz pianist and keyboard player of the first order" with a "rhythmically sophisticated approach" (LiveUnsigned.com), Isamu leads a number of original bands while maintaining a busy performance schedule as a sideman. His own projects include Future Gibbon (a Rhodes-guitar jazz/funk/fusion trio), The Odd Men In (a more conventional jazz piano trio), Origin Blue ("a trio for the new decade") and Retired Pornstars (a loud underground trio).
Over the years, he has had the good fortune to perform live with a "dizzying variety of collaborators" (theJazzMann.com), including Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Keith Carlock, James Genus, Bennie Maupin, Lenny Pickett, Stefon Harris, Francisco Mela, Tony Moreno, Ron McClure, Kat Dyson, Maya Azucena, Les Cleveland, Boris Koslov, Francesco Bearzatti, Ray Anderson, Andy Gravish, Paul Safy Jr., Likwuid, Top $ Raz, Kurious Jorge and many more. He has also appeared on recordings with Lenny Pickett, Francisco Mela, Jean-Michel Pilc, George Garzone, Stefon Harris, Jimmy Scott, Jonathan Batiste, Maya Azucena, Kate Davis, Joy De Vito, Bernardo Guerra and Juliana Munoz.
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), the Iridium (NYC), Smalls (NYC), the Jazz Gallery (NYC), the Blue Note Milan (Italy), the Torrione Jazz Club (Ferrara, IT), Catalina Jazz Club (LA), BB King's (NYC and LA), the Key Club (LA), Tea Lounge (Brooklyn), Nuyorican Poets Cafe (NYC), Shrine (NYC) and the Knitting Factory (Brooklyn). 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", domestic/international touring in 2011 with various groups, and occasionally sleeping.