Clare Fischer Orchestra – Music for Strings, Percussion, and The Rest [TrackList follows] – Clavo Records CR201309, 72:22 ***1/2:
(Artists include: Dr. Clare Fischer – Composer, conductor, keyboards; Brent Fischer – Producer, composer, keyboards, all mallet instruments and percussion; Gary Foster- conductor, alto sax, alto clarinet; Bryan Pezzone – piano; Assa Drori – Concertmaster)
From 1957, when Clare Fischer began as accompanist for the Hi-Los, he has been a man for all musical seasons up until his death in 2012. He had a life-long affinity for Latin music as well as chamber jazz and classical music. He could not be pigeon-holed into one particular genre. Noted as an educator, Dr. Fischer was an in demand speaker, and sought out by college jazz programs. His early interest in bossa nova came about the same time that Getz and Jobim got more attention for the craze that this infectious music brought to the US.
His son, Brent Fischer, has carried on his father’s legacy, and following up on a previous orchestral album, After the Rain, has released this follow-up orchestral CD from Dr Fischer’s collection of works. There are two extended compositions, Pensamientos for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra and Realizacion for String Orchestra that cover around 75% of the CD’s length. The former is a full-on classical piece that would be at home in an orchestral hall. Its origin goes back to the 1950s, and its completion was finalized in the 1990s. It highlights the alto sax skills of Gary Foster, who also conducts the orchestra. The three percussion parts are played by a single drum set. It has an airiness that the chamber strings explore effectively.
The Realizacion that follows two tracks later began as a string quartet in the 50s and again found its way to a full string orchestra in the late 80s. (As you can see Fischer takes his time to bring his visions to fruition.) Fischer’s son describes its mood as a blend of Bartok, Shostakovich, Ellington, and Berg – quite a heady mix. Once again, its jazz influences are elusive, but the emotions it brings out are of profound orchestral beauty.
Along with these two major pieces, you will find lighter fare such as a classical reading of Henry Mancini’s “Two for the Road” done as a pretty 2:38 snippet. Bryan Pezzone provides a four minute “Interlude for Piano” that defies an genre classification. Pezzone later returns with “Reflections for Piano,” which explores polytonality.
Brent Fischer’s mallet skills are shown on two vibraphone features, “Weekend in Stockholm,” and “Retrograde Orbits for Vibraphone.” Three interesting themes written by Clare deserve mention- “Coming Home,” composed after Fischer was confined to a hospital bed after a concussion; “Suddenly,” serves as a catharsis after the death of a close colleague; and “A Moment of Silence,” one of the last pieces that Clare composed before his death. “Suddenly” comes closest to what would be classified as “jazz,” while “A Moment of Silence” has a sublime beauty that brings to mind Aaron Copland.
It will interesting to anticipate what Brent Fischer has next in mind to share from the amazing creative mind of the unclassifiable Dr. Clare Fischer.
TrackList: Pensamientos for Solo alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra, Miniature, Realizacion for String Orchestra, Interlude for Piano, Two for the Road, Weekend in Stockholm, Coming Home, Reflection for Piano, Retrograde Orbits for Vibraphone, Suddenly, A Moment of Silence