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Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band: ¡Intenso!

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Editor’s Pick · Album of the Month ·

Few composers and arrangers of the past musical generation had a greater genius for imbuing their work the most luscious harmonic colour and texture than the legendary Clare Fischer. And it is one of the travesties of our society today that listeners – even real aficionados – have all but forgotten his work. Perhaps the one thing that stands in the way of that happening altogether is his son, Brent Fischer whose relentless efforts to keep the flame alive have borne much fruit lately. Of course, it has helped that the elder Fischer has left behind a seemingly endless treasure of music, much of which we are getting to hear of often for the first time.

What is even more remarkable about these discoveries is that on much of the music Clare Fischer himself plays the keyboard parts almost always on an electric keyboard that he favoured in the later part of his career. ¡Intenso! is one such release. This disc is a follow up to the celebrated 2012 release of Fischer and his Latin Jazz Big Band: ¡Ritmo! and features a collection of ten masterful works all written or arranged (in the case of three) in the inimitable motivic-developmental style by the master and produced by Brent Fischer. As with all of his other music, these charts also feature ingenious use of lyrical modality and dense, silvery chromaticism and are – as always – the epitomé of sophistication.

The album also features the vocals of Roberta Gambarini, whose smoky elegance flavours ‘Gaviota’, one of the most beloved pieces by Clare Fischer, and ‘The Butterfly Samba’. Also heard here are percussion colourists: Sheila E, Luis Conte and Kevin Ricard and the effervescent drummers, Walfredo Reyes and Tris Imboden and the irrepressible Scott Whitfield. Moreover, the fine musicians of the Latin Jazz Big Band play with dynamism and panache throughout the programme embracing with impetuosity the impish, incandescent rhythms of the music. Listeners will be left breathless by the manner in which Clare Fischer made Latin music his own not only by adorning it with supple changes of colour – ‘O Canto’ is a superb example, with its painterly sense of inner motion – as is ‘Tres Palabras’ which lightens up the bottom end of the recording as memorably as ‘Gaviota’ does the top half.

It bears mention – again – that naturally you would need a pianist with a flexible technique and a large portfolio of nuance to bring all of this off. Such a pianist is, of course, Clare Fischer. His performance offers more tonal variety and sparkle than most. However, what is even more obvious is that Fischer’s instrument was always his band. And although he may have played his keyboard with great agility, his musicianship represents a magical ability that came from being expert at all of the instruments he wrote for and, more than anything else, a tuneful, imaginative, intelligently wrought, intimately idiomatic and unpretentious fusion of mind and heart.

Track List: Algo Bueno; Gaviota; Rockin’ in Rhythm; Solar Patrol; The Butterfly Samba; Renacimiento; O Canto; La Mucura; Tres Palabras; Play Time.

Personnel: Dr Clare Fischer: composer, arranger, keyboards (except where noted); Brent Fischer: producer, arranger, conductor, mallet instruments, electric bass (except where noted), all ‘guitar’ sounding parts, auxiliary keyboards. Woodwinds: Alex Budman (soprano and alto saxophones, flute, piccolo, clarinet; Kirsten Edkins: soprano and alto saxophones, flute, clarinet; Don Shelton: soprano saxophone, flute; Brian Clancy: tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, clarinet, recorder; Sean Franz: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, recorder; Rob Hardt: tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, clarinet; Lee Callet: baritone saxophone, flute, alto flute, clarinet, recorder; Bob Carr: bass saxophone, flute, piccolo, Eb clarinet. Trumpets: Carl Saunders, Ron Stout, Rob Schaer, James Blackwell, Brian Mantz, Michael Stever, Anthony Bonsera. Trombones: Scott Whitfield, Francisco Torres, Philip Menchaca, Jacques Voyemant, Steve Hughes (bass trombone). Rhythm Section: Quinn Johnson: keyboards (4, 5 & 6); Ron Manoag: drums (5 & 6); Ken Wild: electric bass (5 & 6). Special Guests: Sheila E: timbales (Solar Patrol); Roberta Gambarini: vocals (Gaviota, The Butterfly Samba); Scott Whitfield: vocals, trombone (The Butterfly Samba); Luis Conte and Kevin Ricard: all percussion; Walfredo Reyes: drums (Play Time); Tris Imboden: drums (Solar Patrol).

Label: Clavo Records
Release date: September 2016
Running time: 1:03:00
Website: clarefischer.com
Buy Clare Fischer music: amazon

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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