65

Clare Fischer Orchestra: Extension

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
When composer Clare Fischer passed away on January 26, 2012, he left behind a diverse legacy. Spending the late 1950s as pianist and arranger for The Hi-Lo's before working alongside Dizzy Gillespie and Donald Byrd, Fischer finally attained greater recognition in the 1960s for his contributions to the then burgeoning Latin jazz and bossa nova craze, including writing the standard "Pensativa."

Conceived and performed exactly as he intended, Extension is his masterpiece. Recorded in 1963, the album is a majestic culmination of his concepts, drawing upon myriad influences, including rich Ellingtonian voicings, the angular harmonic intervals of bebop, and bold modernist innovations proffered by classical composers such as Bela Bartok and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Released for the first time on CD by International Phonograph, Inc., this deluxe mini-LP styled reissue was mastered from the original 3 track analog tapes, capturing every nuance of the orchestra's scintillating tones, textures, and shadings. Counter to the norms of the time, these meticulously scored big-band charts are light on extended improvisation—but intentionally so—as Fischer considered the relationship between composition and arrangement equally important. Maintaining thematic control as primary soloist, Fischer proves to be a concise, yet original interpreter, demonstrated by his adroit pianism on the impressionistic tone poem "Quiet Dawn." His kaleidoscopic Hammond organ work, revealed elsewhere on the record, is equally colorful.

Alternating with the leader for the spotlight is tenor saxophonist Jerry Coker. An under-sung West Coast phenomenon, Coker's role as an educator has overshadowed his discography; his contributions herein should redress this oversight, as his distinctively straightforward tenor ruminations resound with a sublime lyricism, particularly on the expansive title cut.

Together Fischer and Coker accentuate the date's prismatic colors and variegated moods, which are by turns charmingly old fashioned, like the breezy "Ornithardy," or subversively modern, such as the jaunty "Igor," dedicated to Stravinsky. Although traditional swing dominates, the acute timbral contrasts between instrumental sections belie the orchestra's seemingly conventional make-up; subterranean woodwinds, lush brass and diaphanous flutes engage in rigorous counterpoint across eight multihued selections. The cumulative effect of these dynamic voicings varies dramatically; the 5/4 chant "Canto Africano" suggests classy vintage exotica, yet the same instrumentation conveys regal austerity on the opulent ballad "Bittersweet."

As part of the same continuum that includes Gil Evans, Stan Kenton and Gary McFarland, Fischer reveals a distinctive and unique compositional style. Accessible and sophisticated, Extension is a welcome reissue that will entertain and engage curious listeners on multiple levels.

Track Listing: Ornithardy; Quiet Dawn; Bittersweet; Igor; Extension (Coker's Blues & Running Mate); Soloette; Passacaglia; Canto Africano.

Personnel: Clare Fischer: piano, organ, alto saxophone (1, 5-7), lujohn (2-4, 8); John Lowe: 1st flute and alto flute (2-4, 8), E-flat contra bass clarinet, baritone saxophone and clarinet (1, 5- 7), piccolo (1-8); Sam Most: 2nd flute, alto flute, piccolo (2-4, 8); Bud Shank: flute, alto saxophone (1, 5-7); Don Shelton: E-flat clarinet, alto saxophone; Ben Kantor: clarinet (2-4, 8); Louis Ciotti: clarinet (2-4, 8); Gary Foster: E-flat alto clarinet, tenor saxophone; Jerry Coker: tenor saxophone (1, 5-7), bass clarinet (2-4, 8); Jack Nimitz: E-flat contra bass clarinet, baritone saxophone (2-4, 8); Vince De Rosa: 1st horn; Richard Perissi: 2nd horn; Fred Teuber: 3rd horn; Gil Falco: tenor trombone; Bobby Knight: bass trombone; Tommy Johnson: tuba; Bob West: bass; Larry Bunker: vibes (2-4, 8), drums (1, 5-7); Colin Bailey: drums (2-4, 8).

Title: Extension | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: International Phonograph Inc.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Wobbly Danse Flower CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Danse Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Carry Fire CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017
Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Wake Up Call" CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Pensamiento" CD/LP/Track Review Pensamiento
by James Nadal
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Prototype" CD/LP/Track Review Prototype
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Feefifofum Quartet" CD/LP/Track Review Feefifofum Quartet
by James Nadal
Published: July 9, 2017
Read "Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.