Mark Isham

Pioneer of new acoustic music Windham Hill Records roped in some impressive talent during its 70's and 80's heyday and jazz trumpeter Mark Isham was one of its most impressive artists. His ambient excursions for the label are graceful, delicate and exude a subtle grandeur.

artist:
Mark Isham

country of origin:
USA

style(s):
Soundtrack, jazz, ambient, world music, orchestral

decades active:
80's - 00's

essential releases:

  • Film Music (1985, Windham Hill)
  • Tibet (1989, Windham Hill)

Reviewed by Mike G

Pioneer of new acoustic music Windham Hill Records attracted some outstanding talent during its 70's and 80's heyday and jazz trumpeter Mark Isham was among them. His ambient excursions for the label are graceful, delicate and exude a subtle grandeur. Unlike most other WH artists of the time, he used electronics extensively, combining his synthesisers with piano, brass, percussion and classical instruments. Since the 80's Isham has concentrated almost exclusively on film music, but none of the resulting soundtrack albums come close to the creative peaks he scaled on these two Windham Hill recordings.

These albums best showcase Isham’s expansive, cinematic style. Film Music (1985) collects music from a number of film soundtracks including Mrs. Soffel and Never Cry Wolf and sounds gloriously spacious. The same landscaped feel also pervades his highly evocative five-part suite Tibet (1989), the album which many fans regard as his masterpiece. The exuberant passages of brass and percussion wonderfully compliment the beatless drone-based sections, and Isham enhances the atmosphere with the judicious use of some Japanese haiku poetry.

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