Isaiah J. ThompsonThe Power of the SpiritBlue Engine Records

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Blue Engine Records Announces March 17th Release of Rising Star Pianist Isaiah J. Thompson’s The Power of the Spirit Lead single “The IT Department” available on all digital platforms now Album available on digital platforms and CD on March 17th

The hard-swinging album—recorded live at Dizzy’s Club—captures a pivotal moment in the young artist’s evolution.

New York, NY (January 27, 2023) – Hailed as “a young musician and composer with a mature touch and rare combination of talent, creativity, humility and honesty” by NPR, pianist Isaiah J. Thompson is an emerging generational talent. This March 17th, his first live album—The Power of the Spirit—will be released digitally and as a CD on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s in-house record label, Blue Engine.

Today, Isaiah debuts the first single from the upcoming record, “The IT Department.” It is a play on his initials, but also a tribute to Isaiah’s father. Isaiah states, “I don’t come from a particularly musical family, but they have always supported me. When someone would ask my parents if they had been involved in my musical education, my father would respond by saying, ‘music is his department.’”

Captured in front of a rapturous audience at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club, The Power of the Spirit finds Thompson’s seasoned quartet delivering a locked-in performance of their repertoire. On full display are the pianist’s stunning dexterity and soulful original material; combining crisp technicality with a gospel-inflected sound, Thompson nods to forebears like Bobby Timmons, Phineas Newborn Jr., and Cedar Walton while blazing a trail of his own.

Thompson has played with legends including Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Steve Turre, John Pizzarelli, and Buster Williams. You’ve seen his NPR Tiny Desk concert, his inclusion in the Jazz Night in America’s Youngblood series, heard him as a special guest on the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Handful of Keys, and can catch him at the upcoming American Pianists Association events. Now, get ready for the powerhouse personal statement that is The Power of the Spirit.

Track List (All Compositions Written by Isaiah J. Thompson)

 01 Welcome

 02 The IT Department

 03 The Soul Messenger

 04 For Phineas (Intro)

 05 For Phineas

 06 Tales of the Elephant and Butterfly

 07 Good Intentions (learn our names, say them right)

 08 Thank You Betsy

 09 The Power of the Spirit


            Isaiah J. Thompson, piano

            Julian Lee, tenor saxophone

            Philip Norris, bass

TJ Reddick, drums (tracks 2, 3, & 9)

            Domo Branch, drums (tracks 5, 6, 7, & 8)

Liner Notes:

The Power of the Spirit began as an exercise in self-reflection and self-motivation. I spent a lot of time trying to rationalize the hows, whats, and whys of my life. This album is like a view into the mind of Isaiah and a journal of what it is I’ve been delving into for the last few years. I wrestled with the idea of a live recording for a long time due to the more extensive length of each of the songs. In the end, I felt it was more important that people get the most authentic depiction of what my vision for my music is, and how it has evolved and will continue to evolve.

The first composition, “The IT Department,” is of course a play on my initials, but it is also something my father used to say. I don’t come from a particularly musical family, but they have always supported me. When someone would ask my parents if they had been involved in my musical education, my father would respond by saying, “Music is his department.” The second composition “The Soul Messenger” is dedicated to the people in our lives who are always where we need them—when we need them—even when unsought. I began composing this upon hearing about the passing of the great Harold Mabern. Soul Messengers are people who have touched your heart, whether they’re a teacher, a security guard, a parent, a deacon, a mentor, or even a friend. 

“For Phineas” is an ode to one of my biggest inspirations, the great Phineas Newborn Jr. I dedicate this song to him but it also serves as an acknowledgment of the importance of the church in jazz and in all black music. “Tales of the Elephant and the Butterfly” is reminiscent of a children’s story. My mother is the inspiration for this piece as she has always loved both elephants and butterflies. This song touches on symbols that we use for others and how these symbols have the power to bring special people to you even when they themselves are not there. 

“Good Intentions (Learn our names, Say them right)” is about the importance of names. Most of my life I have been called by names other than my own, both first and last. At times I have even been made to feel that the use of my middle initial is a display of ostentation or arrogance. Sometimes a name is just misspoken or misspelled but sometimes it is a display of laziness, disrespect, or even power. This song was inspired by innovators such as Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols and its title and protest-like gumption was inspired by icons such as Charles Mingus. “Thank You Betsy” serves as a thank you to my mother’s black Volvo, which she had named Betsy. Betsy got me to school, music lessons, friends houses, fencing meets, rehearsals, and everything else you could imagine. That car was such a major part of my childhood and I am forever grateful. 

Over the last few years, “The Power of the Spirit” became a mantra for me. It is rooted equally in both the reality of self-work and belief. This song follows in its own way the basic form of the blues. It deals with adversity and resolution in three parts. The first is you dealing with an internal struggle. Sometimes we battle our own thoughts and feelings. The second deals with external struggles. There will be times when there is nothing that you could have done to avoid an outcome; as I’ve learned, we are not as much in control of what happens to us as we are our reaction to it. The last part is what gets us through these struggles and allows us to continue despite the severity of the obstacles we may face. It is the most unexplainable solution and generally the least recognized. This song is my interpretation of what it means to return in the power of the Spirit. Over the last few years I’ve written, played and spoken these words (and now lyrics) to myself:

“The Mind, I hear it

Deception, we see it

Oh but The Power of the Spirit”

— Isaiah J. Thompson, August 2022


Executive Producer: Wynton Marsalis

Recording Engineer: Robb Macomber, Todd Whitelock, and Christopher Gold

Editor: Gloria Kaba

Mixing Engineer: Todd Whitelock at Amplified Art and Sound

Mastered by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios, NYC 2022

Label Head and A&R: Gabrielle Armand

Label Manager: Jake Cohen

Product Manager: Benjamin Korman

Director of Public Relations and External Communications: Zooey T. Jones

Public Relations Manager: Madelyn Gardner

Legal: Daphnée Saget Woodley, Suhaydee Tejeda

Concert Programming: Georgina Javor and Jason Olaine

Concert Producer: Georgina Javor

Front of House Sound: Juan Carlos Andrews

Art Direction: Brian Welesko

Cover Painting: Carol Black-Lemon

Design: William Mauro

Photography: Lawrence Sumulong

Liner Notes: Isaiah J. Thompson

Recorded live on January 13, 2020; September 2–3, 2021; and April 4, 2022, at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club

About Blue Engine Records

Blue Engine Records, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s platform that makes its vast archive of recorded concerts available to jazz audiences everywhere, launched on June 30, 2015. Blue Engine Records releases new studio and live recordings as well as archival recordings from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s performance history that date back to 1987 and are part of the R. Theodore Ammon Archives and Music Library. Since the institution’s founding in 1987, each year’s programming is conceived and developed by Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis with a vision toward building a comprehensive library of iconic and wide-ranging compositions that, taken together, make up a canon of music. These archives include accurate, complete charts for the compositions – both old and new – performed each season. Coupled with consistently well-executed and recorded music performed by Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, this archive has grown to include thousands of songs from hundreds of concert dates. The launch of Blue Engine is aligned with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s efforts to cultivate existing jazz fans worldwide and turn new audiences onto jazz. For more information on Blue Engine Records, visit

Leadership support for Blue Engine Records is provided in part by the Arnhold Family and Jay Pritzker Foundation.

Generous support is provided by Helen and Robert Appel, Diana and Joseph DiMenna, Leonard and Louise Riggio, and Lisa Schiff.



Isaiah J. Thompson Quartet @ University of Iowa – Hancher Auditorium @ 6:30pm



John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell @ Kutztown University – Schaeffer Auditorium @ 7:30pm



John Pizzarelli @ Flato Markham Theatre @ 8:00pm



John Pizzarelli Trio: Stage and Screen Album Release @ Birdland Jazz Club @ 7:00pm



John Pizzarelli Trio: Stage and Screen Album Release @ Birdland Jazz Club @ 7:30pm



John Pizzarelli Trio: Stage and Screen Album Release @ Birdland Jazz Club @ 7:30pm



John Pizzarelli Trio: Stage and Screen Album Release @ Birdland Jazz Club @ 7:30pm



John Pizzarelli Trio: Stage and Screen Album Release @ Birdland Jazz Club @ 7:30pm



John Pizzarelli @ Chubb Theatre @ 4:00pm