|Date of birth
||May 29, 1953
|Place of birth
After playing lute and baroque music for quite a while, his love for composing and performing contemporary guitar music prevailed. |
His style blends jazz, a variety of ethnic idioms, and forms from the modern classical tradition. The improvisational technique and harmonic language of contemporary jazz, raga forms, polyrhythms, irregular meters, avant rock and Brazilian music are just a few of the flavors that seep into his work.
Gilbert Isbin has recorded thus far 14 albums, which have been highly acclaimed by the international musicpress and which are worldwide distributed. He is featured on several compilation CDs.
He played concerts all over Europe and in Los Angeles (USA) and has collaborated and/or recorded with American and European players, such as Cameron Brown, Joe Fonda, Jeff Gauthier, Ernst Reijseger, Jan Kuijken, Michel Godard, Jaap Blonk, Fred Vanhove, John Ruocco, Steve Houben, Rudy de Sutter, Sandor Szabo, Philippe Deschepper, Geert Verbeke, André Goudbeek, Pierre Vaiana, Iep Fourrier, Chris Joris,...
Gilbert has written music for documentaries and shortfilms and composed music for solo, duet, trio and quartet guitar settings of which his 'Summer Moon Dance' has been added to the repertoire of the internationally acclaimed Quartetto Chitarristico Italiano. Several of his compositions for guitar solo, flute/guitar,.. have been published by Copamusic Productions and Tern Editions.
He is featured in the E-book '25 Great Fingerstyle Players' of Acoustic Guitar Workshop.
He performs solo, with the Gilbert Isbin Group, the Isbin/Gauthier duo, the Isbin/Gauthier/Colpaert Trio, the Isbin/Fourier duo, the Isbin/Fonda duo, with poet Frank Decerf...
And what do other musicians think about him ?
- Review on Gilbert Isbin/Jeff Gauthier Performance in Los Angeles (February 2004) by Robin Frederick, songwriter and author of articles on Nick Drake, writer of the song Been Smoking Too long, featured on the posthumously released Nick Drake album Time Of No Reply :
Gilbert Isbin was performing here in Los Angeles last Thursday night. He was absolutely wonderful, creating mesmerizing rhythms, climbing through chords as if they were ladders. (For those of you reading this who don't know Gilbert, he is a guitarist who lives in Belgium where he records his own solo albums and is a much-in-demand sideman.) Gilbert came to LA at the request of Jeffrey Gauthier, a superb jazz violinist and owner of a jazz label. He and Gilbert played three or four numbers together which they had worked up just the previous day. It sounded as if they had been playing together for years! Gorgeous stuff! They did a version of Nick Drake's 'Three Hours" which was stunning, but even better was a piece Gilbert had just written for the two of them called (I think) "Invitation." The Club Tropical was the perfect venue - a large dance floor was strewn with the music equipment needed by the band following Gilbert. There were couches around the walls and tables & chairs right at the edge of the dance floor. The house lights were kept on, though dimmed, so you got the feeling of sitting around someone's home studio listening to a great jam session.
I love Gilbert's album of Nick Drake covers and have written about it before. His guitar interpretations are both integral and expansive. At the show on Thursday night, he played an excellent cover of the Beatles "Norwegian Wood" that also displayed the same respect for the material while going deeper and wider.
- I must compliment you on your compositions and your guitar playing, both of which are most impressive.
Charles Alexander, former president of the International Jazz Federation.
- Isbin solo or with De Sutter knows what he wants to express and is capable of it with authority.
- I enjoyed your music. There were many interesting and original moments to be found !
- Il s’agit d’une musique très recherchée, résolument contemporaine, mais faite par des musiciens qui connaissent bien le language du jazz et c’est ce qui en fait l’intérêt.
- Merci beaucoup pour le très beau disque. J’espère que nous aurons l’occasion de travailler ensemble
- I liked the music very much
'It's great following your career, I think you are quickly becoming one of Western Europe's finest composers of eclectic jazz, and one of the best acoustic guitarists in any genre.
Wishing you continued success!'
Ben Kettlewell, Editor ALTERNATE MUSIC PRESS
"Isbin is a classical guitarist who performs his own compositions. If early influences from Paul Bley and Bill Evans imply an impressionistic, tonal player, however, nothing could be more inaccurate. Here are pieces full of extended techniques and preparations; Isbin's love of piano music has expanded to include Cecil Taylor and Marilyn Crispell in later years, and it certainly shows.
Isbin has a fiendishly powerful technique; he's able to play fast and loud without falling back on cliche. Working with preparations is easy enough when the style is soft and reflective, but in this energetic, quick-changing music it's almost impossibly difficult, especially in a solo setting. Derek Bailey is one virtuoso who famously expressed a lack of interest in preparations, finding them too unwieldy for his mercurial style; Isbin proves here that it can be done, that exciting and dynamic music can come from the most awkward of modifications.
These pieces can reach apoplectic levels of activity, as on the frenzied and ear-boggling "Ogle". Not everything on this disc has the same headlong rush to it, however, and it comes across as anything but hectoring. Tracks like "Toeka" and "Nuances" are more spacious, and the sequence of thirteen pieces, all fairly short, works as a satisfying whole.
Indeed, the sheer variety on this disc can, at first, obscure the consistency of vision which these pieces share; the wild, hammering tachism, the Stepan Rak-like trilling arpeggios, the scrapes and rattles, the Cagean preparations, the percussive sounds, single-note lines and big, dramatic chording.
It's remarkable, then, that Isbin's style manages to remain coherent throughout. Where many classical guitar compositions have been plagued by gimmicky compendia of "new sounds", Isbin has gone far beyond that first flush of
novelty, and his compositions work as more than just technical work-outs. In short, Isbin is one of the most enthralling
avant-classicists around. He may be one step back from the edge of the envelope, but that just gives him the perspective to make his music as intelligent as it is. Highly recommended to all, indispensible for guitarists and afficionados of the instrument."
Belgian acoustic guitarist Gilbert Isbin enjoys performing as a solo artist or within duet and trio settings. A veteran of the European jazz scene and involvement in documentaries film or dance, Isbin illustrates his multifold approach on two recent works, one of which is titled, Solo Works as Isbin goes it alone on classical and “prepared” classical guitar. Here, Isbin displays a good degree of ingenuity finesse and masterful technique as he whips through 13 seemingly improvised pieces.
Isbin performs with a vengeance on such an assumedly delicate instrument. Whether performing lush harmonics or practically battering his acoustic guitar into submission, Isbin is not lacking ideas or a sense of purpose. On many
tracks, Isbin explores an abundance of motifs and unorthodox approaches while at times extracting unusual or perhaps unimaginable sounds from his ax. Unlike free-improv guitar god Derek Bailey, Isbin carves out thematic passages which
almost seem composed yet is prone to detune his guitar or hammer his strings with blazing speed. Essentially, Isbin scolds his instrument or perhaps implements many things, which are not meant to be! Energy and effect are key –
as Isbin often discards the fundamentals in favor of dynamism coupled with nuance, poise and oddball voicings yet Isbin emits a sense of continuity along with his bold aggression and unusual permutations. It is safe to say Isbin
stretches matters to the limits of perception and comprehension while twisting his classical guitar into knots as he fervently pursues strange sounds and at times,discordant themes. * * * ½
ALL ABOUT JAZZ . COM (INTERNET MAGAZINE)
Modern Jazz: Gilbert Isbin - Solo Works & Twins
October 1999 By Glenn Astarita
In short, Isbin is one of the most enthralling avant-classicists around. He may be one step back from the edge of the envelope, but that just gives him the perspective to make his music as intelligent as it is. Highly recommended to all, ndispensible for guitarists and afficionados of the instrument.
MUSINGS.COM, Aug.1999, UK, (Richard Cochrane) http://come.to/musings.com
Isbin displays a good degree of ingenuity finesse and masterful technique as he whips through 13 seemingly improvised pieces.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ . COM , Oct. 1999, USA (Glenn Astarita)
OPTION (1990, USA, Bart Grooms) :
Here's a sense of the personal, a striving to say something fresh. I could use a string of superlatives to talk about this music.
VIVA LA MUSICA (1993, Switserland) :
Isbin proofs to be a guitarist with a very personal style and a composer to be followed.
GUITAR PLAYER (1993, USA, Jas Obrecht) :
Isbin's trademark is lyricism - the kind of conscious musicianship that distinguishes players like Egberto Gismonti.
CADENCE (1993 ,USA) :
Isbin's original and often off-beat compositions have a natural feeling that sounds entirely new.
JAZZ IN TIME (1994, Belgium, J.P. Schroeder) :
One of the most Belgian adventurous productions since a long time.
IMPROJAZZ (1994, France) :
An original form of expression and a remarkable lyrism.
JAZZ LIFE (1994, Japan) :
Crystalline and thrilling impressions. Profoundly interesting music.
CADENCE (1995, USA) :
Isbin is a remarkable performer. For the guitar enthusiast and everyone interested in where creative improvised music intersects with artsy high energy-rock elements this album is a must.
JAZZ HOT (N° 529,04/96, France) :
Here an album which evokes the essence of European improvised music for the next decade.
THE BILLBOARD GUIDE OF PROGRESSIVE MUSIC (Ed. 1998 - USA, Bradley Smith) :
Acoustic Dialogues, is an excellent collection of adventurous acoustic guitar/acoustic piano duets, done without calculation in a sophisticated way.
AKUSTIK GITARRE (n° 3, 4 Jahrg, 1997, Germany) :
On his newest CD Soloworks you can hear 13 short compositions which ask an intellectual challenge of the listener and point out new directions for the guitar.
CADENCE (1998, USA, Frank Rubolino) :
Isbin is certainly a creative artist. His work is a mixture of nuances, subtleties, overt statements, and explosive bursts of sound. Although the album is not lentghly, it presents an ample enough dose of Isbin’s talent to cause you to be awed by his prowess.
PLASTIKS (June 1999, K. Bop) : Or how Paul Bley would sound on guitar *****
(See top of page for main discography)
PURE, LP, TERN OO1 (B), '84
THE CLEAR PERCEPTION OF PROVENANCE WITHIN, LP, HWYL RECORDS, (UK), '87 (with SANDOR SZABO and BALAZS MAJOR) to be found on TRANCE PLANET Volume 4 compilation CD
BLUE SOUNDS AND TOUCHES, CD, HWYL RECORDS, (UK) '91 (out of print)
MOTIONS, CD, TERN OO2, (B), '94 (with EXTENSIONS)
1,37, CD, TERN OO3, (B), '95 (with EXTENSIONS)
ACOUSTIC DIALOGUES , CD, TERN OO4, (B) '95 (with RUDY DE SUTTER)
The Tern cds are available from TERN RECORDS, Oudstrijderslaan 18, 8200 Brugge 2, Belgium
Check also :THE FINGERSTYLE OF GILBERT ISBIN (D.A.M., 2001) Solo guitar.
WATER WITH A SMILE
on COMPILATION CD :Lexicon van de Muziek in West-Vlaanderen, CD, Klara, Belgium, 2005
Lullabyes, CD, UK, 2004
10 Short Stories and four Fifths, CD, UK, 2004 with Iain Cameron
European Trytone Festival 2003, CD, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Highveld Easter Plundafonix, CD, UK,2002
Trance Planet VOL 4 , TRILOKA, POLYGRAM (USA) 1999 with a.o. Camarón de la Isla, Abida Parveen, Marta Sebestyén, Brain Keane,...