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Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band: Intenso!

Roger Farbey By

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What better way to pay tribute to your father than, over the course of several years, painstakingly capturing his keyboard playing (and sometimes singing) and at a later date adding superb big band arrangements? Bandleader and keyboardist Clare Fischer died in 2012 aged 83 but left a legacy of work that his son, bandleader and bassist Brent Fischer, has faithfully recorded, using his father's archived keyboard playing on most, but not all, of the tracks. Brent Fischer did a similar legacy job using his late father's compositions and keyboard work on the 2014 release Pacific Jazz.

The opener, Dizzy Gillespie's "Algo Bueno (Something Good)" also known as "Woody 'n'You" is an upbeat piece alternating between an Afro-Cuba 6/8 and a Mambo. "Gaviota (Seagull)" by Clare Fischer with lyrics by Weaver Copeland, features the inestimable vocal talent of Roberta Gambarini who delivers an enticing scat solo into the bargain. Duke Ellington's "Rockin' In Rhythm" is given a sophisticated big band makeover successfully adding to the piquancy of the original.

Clare Fischer's vibrant "Solar Patrol" features Sheila Escovedo (also known as Sheila E) on timbales. Also by Clare Fischer with lyrics penned by Darlene Koldenhoven, "The Butterfly Samba" again features Roberta Gambarini exuberantly duetting with Scott Whitfield, who also contributes brief bursts of trombone soloing too.

Another Clare Fischer number, the ambitious and immensely satisfying "Renacimiento," represents a slight departure from the other pieces in that it opens in a neo-classical vein and transmutes into a kind of blues adorned with a highly imaginative, tonally colourfully arrangement utilising a wide range of instrumentation.

On "O Canto," again composed by Clare Fischer, Carl Saunders turns in a terrific trumpet solo and Clare Fischer is heard scat singing along to his keyboard playing. "Tres Palabras," written by the Cuban composer Osvaldo Farrés, has a bossa nova feel to it, not unlike Jobim's classic "Insensatez," but with an extra warmth imbued to it by the horns. The lively finale, "Play Time (A Gozar)" is both the last track recorded by Fischer Senior and the first time it's appeared on an album, with Francisco Torres here soloing on trombone.

Herbie Hancock has famously spoken of his indebtedness to Clare Fischer as a major influence on him and judging by this excellent album it's not surprising. This meticulously crafted album is simply a must for all big band fans.

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

Personnel: Clare Fischer: keyboards; Brent Fischer: percussion, electric bass, “guitar” sounding parts; Alex Budman: soprano & alto sax, flute, piccolo, clarinet; Kirsten Edkins: soprano & alto sax, flute, clarinet; Don Shelton: soprano sax, flute; Brian Clancy: tenor sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, recorder; Sean Franz: tenor sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, recorder; Rob Hardt: tenor sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet; Lee Callet: baritone sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, recorder; Bob Carr: bass sax, flute, piccolo, Eb contrabass clarinet; Carl Saunder, Ron Stout, Rob Schaer, James Blackwell, Brian Mantz, Michael Stever, Anthony Bonsera: trumpet; Scott Whitfield, Francisco Torres, Philip Menchaca, Jacques Voyement: trombone; Steve Hughes: bass trombone; Quinn Johnson: keyboards (tracks 4,5,6); Ron Manaog: drums (tracks 5 & 6); Ken Wild: electric bass (tracks 5 & 6); Luis Conte, Kevin Ricard: percussion; plus Sheila E: timbales (on track 4); Robert Gambarini: vocals (tracks 2 & 5); Scott Whitfield: vocals (track 5); Walfredo Reyes: drums (track 10); Tris Imboden: drums (track 4).

Title: Intenso! | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Clavo Records

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