FAME Review: Clare Fischer Big Band directed by Brent Fischer - Pacific Jazz
Clare Fischer Big Band directed by Brent Fischer - Pacific Jazz

Pacific Jazz

Clare Fischer Big Band
directed by Brent Fischer

Clavo Records - CR201408

Available from the Clare Fischer Big Band web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

This point in time is ever growingly a bonanza when it comes to Clare Fischer and his son Brent. Not only have some of father Clare's otherwise unperformed and underperformed works been coming to light in various editions (here and here), not to mention ever more evocations of the guy's oeuvre by such ensembles as Bob DeVos' (here), Resonance (here), and others, but the trend seems poised to resuscitate the late hugely talented maestro's fame while once more ushering his progeny into the limelight, a spot well deserved, as this CD more than attests. Remember, it was no less stellar a talent than Herbie Hancock who averred "I wouldn't be me without Clare Fischer". Well, Brent ain't no slouch either. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, y'all.

Clare was a wunderkind, deft in jazz, bossa nova, Afro-Cubano, fusion, classical (with a generous helping of neoclassical inflections a la Kenton), third stream, vocal, and pop modes, the lastmost his province of greatest payback materially. In the early 70s, Fischer began adding orchestral "sweetener" to the work of artists like Chaka Khan, Robert Palmer, Paul McCartney, Prince (his most prolific employer), and many others. Tons of pop acts then flocked to his office, but it's his other work which most impresses because it's so intelligent and highly hybridized, as in Jumping Jacks here—co-arranged with Brent. And, yo, don't ask me exactly what genre it is 'cause attempting to pigeonhole it should make critics eligible for hazard pay.

Pacific Jazz contains compositions and arrangements by both Fischers as well arrangements of others' work, sometimes with the two in tandem in both cases. Brent's work is excellent in all respects, and I see a good deal of Gil Evans in him (Clare dug the hell out of Gil) but…his dad's is even better. This is not a slight. I suspect that, with the passing of the years, Clare will be seen as an exceptional presence in the trade, one of the very best, a move that's only just now starting. He's one of those artists whose thinking, even well above chops and education, was unique; that's why this Second Renaissance for his work is happening. It takes time for everyone else to catch up.

One criticism, though: the take on Gershwin's I Love You Porgy is too spare and illyrical. Part of the problem lies in the choice of instrument: either a greatly wanting electric piano or a Korg synth piano patch with accompanying string patch, both with no further accompaniment. The cut falls out of tune with the rest of this exemplary CD. Its follow-on, All Out, arranged by Brent, just blows it out of the water. Pacific Jazz took four years to get together in order to, in Brent's words, "meticulously address every nut and bolt of the sonic architecture". Indeed, indeed, indeed, and every second of that time was worth it. No one else could have gotten Clare's, and his own, treasury to sound so pristine and timeless, even futuristic.

Track List:

  • Cherokee (Ray Noble)
  • Jumping Jacks (Clare Fischer)
  • Cotton Tail (Duke Ellington)
  • New Thing (Brent Fischer)
  • Passion (Clare Fischer)
  • Sad About Nothing Blues (B.Fischer / Koldenhoven)
  • Mood Indigo (Ellington / Bigard)
  • Eleanor Rigby (Lennon /McCartney)
  • Blues Parisien (Clare Fischer)
  • Son of a Dad (Brent Fischer)
  • I Loves You Porgy (George Gershwin)
  • All Out (Paul Winter)
  • Ornithardy (Clare Fischer)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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