Artist Details

Mark Isham

Trumpeter/synth programmer Mark Isham was not only an important part of the Windham Hill stable, but also a successful and versatile composer for film and television, garnering equal acclaim for both his new age and soundtrack work. Born September 7, 1951, to a musical family in New York, Isham began studying classical music (specifically trumpet, piano, and violin) as a child. His family later moved to San Francisco, where Isham played with several local orchestras. However, he was also interested in jazz, pop, and rock music, and moonlighted with a wide variety of local bands; during the '70s, he also learned to program synthesizers. Eventually, he left classical music behind and became a touring and session musician for both jazz (Pharoah Sanders, Charles Lloyd) and pop (the Beach Boys, Van Morrison) artists. He joined jazz pianist Art Lande's Rubisa Patrol quartet, where he displayed a strong Miles Davis influence, and founded a band called Group 87 that played what was essentially contemporary instrumental music years before the term existed as a new age subgenre (they released two albums, the first in 1980). The '80s also saw Isham continue his sideman activities, going on to play with the likes of David Sylvian, Was (Not Was), the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Suzanne Vega, XTC, Joni Mitchell, and Willie Nelson, among many others.