Colbie Caillat (USA). Richard Bona (Cameroon). Natalia Lafourcade (Mexico). Sadao Watanabe (Japan). Virgil Donati (Australia). These are just some of the global artists that I have had the fortune to work with over the years. Whatever style of piano or keyboards you are looking for, I can deliver - and at a very high level.
RECORDING: Whether you are looking for the perfect foundational piano part for your pop ballad, a unique blend of keyboard comp parts for your funk odyssey, or some searing lead synth blowing for your jazz fusion record, I can fill the role!
I have been the bandleader and Musical Director for platinum recording artist Colbie Caillat since 2015. I also toured over the years with various other Grammy-winning artists, including Richard Bona, Patti Austin and Natalia Lafourcade. In the jazz world, I have performed with a diverse array of artists, including Sadao Watanabe, Wayne Krantz and Bennie Maupin.
At my home studio I have a pristine Yamaha C3 baby grand piano. Sonically it is a little darker than most Yamaha's I have played, and it almost has hints of a Steinway sound. I have found it to be particularly versatile and wonderful for many different kinds of recording projects.
ARRANGING / ORCHESTRATION: From a pop string arrangement to a full orchestra, I can provide services for all your orchestration and arranging needs. I can provide professional-grade scores and charts (Sibelius), and high-quality MIDI mockups.
It is most important to me that I maintain a strong connection with you (the client), as I respect the fact that you've chosen to work with me. You will always find me communicative, easygoing and quick to turn things around!
Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.
9 ReviewsEndorse Isamu McGregor
I can't speak highly enough of Isamu, who is one of the most talented musicians I've ever worked with. I had him compose and perform a few layers of keyboard and piano parts for a single I just released and was absolutely blown away by the result - perfect product on the first deliverable, no revisions required. Can't wait to work with Isamu again.
Isamu is a dream to work with. Extremely intuitive, with a musical vocabulary and facility tailored to any musical requirement, and the warmest personality to make collaboration completely painless. He's an extraordinary pianist, keyboardist, producer and string arranger and is a steal at the rates posted here......but that's that warm personality I was talking about.
Isamu is just the absolute best! An unreal musician and keyboardist that knows exactly what a piece of music needs, and how to perfectly execute that, whether it be in on stage as a performer or as an arranger. His speed at completing full orchestra arrangements (even complicated medley's) is lightening. It's one thing to be gifted the phenomenal talents that he has, but it's equally amazing to get to know him as a friend and colleague because he is so kind, humble, respectful and is the kind of person ya just wanna hang with.
Having had the pleasure of working with Isamu on numerous live performances and studio recordings over the years, I can honestly say he's one of the most gifted, dependable, hard-working, honest, and thoroughly musical people I've ever encountered. As a pianist, writer, arranger, and overall musical conceptualist, he's among the best in the industry.
Isamu is an incredible musician and virtuosic keyboardist with a sixth sense for what works in musical contexts. On top of that just an all-around great and easy person to work with and top-notch professionalism to boot. You might have to listen to some arcane Dodgers trivia you only half understand but hey, that's a small price to pay and you might even learn something. He definitely has my highest recommendation for any project/recording/tour etc.
Isamu rules! I've worked with him many times and he can cover a wide range of styles from jazz, classical, hip hop, funk, and rock. Recently I sent him a track were I needed a Deep Purple inspired organ solo and he totally blew me away! Top notch musician!
Isamu is awesome! Can’t recommend him more highly. He’s played piano with my band and helped me arrange some piano parts for various pieces. For my concert, he learned 75 min of new material very quickly and gave an emotional and tasteful performance. For my piano arrangements, oftentimes I am creating jazz or pop-oriented parts for classical players who don’t improvise, and he helped me make sure my piano parts were sensible and realistic. Isamu is extremely professional, detail-oriented, cares about serving what’s best for the music, and very reliable and friendly. Looking fwd to next time!
I needed some funky, Parliament-style synth and clav for a track I was working on, and I knew just the man to call. Based on just a few music references, Isamu wrote an incredible part, gave me options, communicated very clearly and turned it all around quick. I can't wait to work with him again.
Isamu is awesome! I’ve hired Isamu for several projects both live and studio work and he always delivers emotionally driven, technically fantastic performances as well as always being collaborative and super quick
to respond with any edits or ideas. I can’t recommend him enough! Looking forward to next time!
Interview with Isamu McGregor
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I have put out two jazz albums as a bandleader, and there are few things more gratifying than going through the process of bringing your original music from concept to product. That involves letting many very talented individuals contribute their time and effort to shaping your music into something greater than you even thought it could be. If there's something I enjoy just as much as playing music, it's the connections you forge with other people. As cliche as it sounds, music really does bring us all together, and it's fantastic.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Since January 2020, I've been part of a team working on a huge music installation project that will hopefully debut in NYC either later this year or in Spring 2022. We are simultaneously working on and/or coordinating the production of literally hundreds of tracks, which will all be a part of this crazy geospatial installation. It's hard to explain in a few sentences, but I can tell you that it's just very very cool.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: In my heart of hearts, analog. But the flexibility that digital allows for in certain areas is invaluable, especially in terms of efficiency. It really depends on the project.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Professionalism and top-quality product, every time. Also I'm easy to get along with, so we'll have fun along the way.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I'd say my favorite part of being a professional musician has been the traveling. I'm a total culture junkie, and I really love the fact that I've been able to perform in so many unique places around the world. Oftentimes with touring, you don't have too much time to actually sightsee before you have to fly to the next place. In 2017 I flew from NYC to Ahmedabad (India), where I was on the ground for roughly 32 hours before flying to Los Angeles for another gig. But I dragged myself out of the hotel between soundcheck and the gig, and wandered around the streets, just to get a taste. I would have hated it if I had gone all the way to India and just slept!
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Q: How quickly can you get this done? A: Just say when, and if it's within reason, I'll get it done.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That music is not something I do for a living. Many non-musicians I meet for the first time are often surprised and/or impressed when I tell them that I am simply a professional musician, with no day job or side hustle. To me, this is what I've been doing my entire adult life to earn a comfortable living, and I honestly can't imagine doing anything else. (Except maybe playing professional baseball - but that ship sailed a long time ago!)
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I always ask for reference tracks to make sure that we are aligned in what we are going for, from a stylistic standpoint. I try to get a full understanding of the scope of their project and what they are hoping to achieve. Similarly, I try to make any suggestions I can to help the music reach the next level. Sometimes a fresh pair of ears can contribute something to a track that has been overlooked - and that goes both ways!
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: While you want to hire someone who is musically talented, it is just as important to find someone who handles their business professionally. Meeting deadlines, providing clear communication, and being completely honest with you about what your music is asking for. Talented music providers will get hired once, based on their merit alone. But true professionals are the ones who get repeat business, because they know how to properly handle their relationship with the client.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: The five fingers on my left hand - because even though lead lines and melodies are ear-catching, a song is nothing without its foundation!
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been a working professional musician since 2009. I studied jazz at New York University, and by the time I graduated I was already doing roughly 150 gigs a year in the NYC area. Over the next few years, I was doing closer to 200-250 gigs per year. I started touring more heavily in 2014, and since then I have performed in over 30 different countries, playing with some truly amazing musicians and artists.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Clean, assured, tasteful.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Tedeschi Trucks Band, because Derek Trucks' slide guitar playing is phenomenal and I would love to be onstage to experience it.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Less is more.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Half the time I'm working on original pop songs, or unique arrangements of pop covers. The other half of the time I'm laying down parts and/or solos for a jazz track, or something similarly creative.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Piano playing. I studied classical piano for 10 years as a child, studied jazz piano in college and have gone on to play all kinds of music since then. I pride myself on my technical prowess and my sense of rhythm, but always making sure that it serves the song.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: A professional touch. A strong sense of rhythm and of composition. A respect for the craft of writing "parts", and an appreciation for the wildness of improvisation. In short, I try to give the song exactly what it is asking for, while giving it an opportunity to ascend even higher.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Because I do much more than just recording piano parts, my work process varies with each job and each client. What doesn't change is my attention to detail, my communication and my efficiency. My goal is to get you the finished product that you need, in a timely manner and with you enjoying the experience from beginning to end.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a Yamaha C3 baby grand piano at my home studio. It records really nicely and is a bit darker than most Yamaha's, which is why I liked it so much. As far as keyboards, I'm a Nord guy (Electro, Lead), but lately I've been using Keyscape and other synth libraries for recording. Easier than having twenty vintage keyboards up and running all the time! As for orchestral samples, I have a deep collection that gives me a wide palette to work with, including BBC Orchestra and many Spitfire libraries.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. Both of these monsters were able to traverse so much musical ground, and do it all at such a high level. I mean, Herbie played with Miles in the 60's, made "Rockit" in the 80's and then made a Joni Mitchell tribute album decades later. And Quincy...the guy was behind "Fly Me to the Moon" and "Thriller". The same guy! I truly love and appreciate musical versatility.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: My jobs are usually split between recording piano/keyboard parts and writing various types of arrangements. This could include: a string and/or horn parts to accompany a pop song; a string quartet arrangement of a pop song; or any other desired instrumentation, all the way up to full orchestra.