“Steinway represents the highest form of achievement. I've admired their pianos since before I could even play. The deep history of its prestige matches the richness of its sound, and the purity of its notes matches the clarity of Steinway’s vision.”
Isaiah J. Thompson
Isaiah J. Thompson is emerging as a powerful jazz pianist, bandleader and composer. Already developing a love of jazz from an early age, he enrolled in esteemed jazz programs, Jazz House Kids and NJPAC Jazz For Teens. He was later admitted to The Juilliard School at the age of 18, and graduated with his B.M. in 2019 and his M.M. in 2020.
Isaiah has performed with major jazz luminaries including Christian McBride, Steve Turre, John Pizzarelli, Joe Farnsworth and Buster Williams. He regularly tours with Pulitzer Prize winning icon, Wynton Marsalis, in a variety of programs ranging from Marsalis’ Quintet, to his Young Stars of Jazz program, and from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Summer Jazz Academy, to fundraising events with the Marsalis & Friends group. He has toured Europe with the New Legacy Quartet, completed a Peruvian jazz cultural exchange program with Jazz House Kids, won several awards at the Essentially Ellington and Charles Mingus competitions, was a jazz piano winner for the National YoungArts Foundation, and was featured in Jazz at Lincoln Centers 2016 season-opening concert with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
His recording debut was featured on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Blue Engine Records Label, on the album Handful of Keys with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The record is a journey through 100 years of jazz, covering the piano’s evolution over the 20th century through the art form’s lens, and features star pianists Joey Alexander, Dick Hyman, Myra Melford, Helen Sung, and Dan Nimmer, alongside Thompson himself. Isaiah recently worked on the Golden Globe nominated soundtrack for Motherless Brooklyn, an album which features two versions the song “Daily Battles” by Thom Yorke, the second of which was arranged and performed by Wynton Marsalis. The song conjures images of the 1950's era Harlem jazz club seen in the film, and sits beside standards recorded by Marsalis’ quintet and other master musicians including Joe Farnsworth, Russell Hall, Willie Jones III, Philip Norris, Ted Nash & Jerry Weldon.
Thompson received the 2018 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award; earned Second Place in the 2018 Thelonious Monk (now Herbie Hancock) Institute of Jazz Piano Competition; and won the 2016 Horace Parlan Talent Award in Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen. He has been featured on WBGO, performs regularly in jazz clubs and museums across the globe, and has been featured at festivals including the famed jazz festival in Marciac. He will be featured in The Gilmore’s 2021 Rising Stars series.
Isaiah believes that artistry is a direct channel into the mind and soul of an artist, and as such, feels that it is important to not lose sight of one’s individuality or that of others. This had led to his ardent advocacy for diversity both in and outside of his field. As a performer, he tries to emit a feeling of joy and convey his personal experiences through music, and through his everlasting love of jazz. He says, “as artists, we sometimes end up on a stage because the way we express ourselves and interact with the world lends to that environment. Ultimately I always strive to be myself in and out of the music, on and off the stage, and to make sure that I present the best version of myself through my character, and also by spending the necessary time on my instrument.”
Isaiah J. Thompson is a Steinway Artist