Jeffrey Fisher Creates "Jazzy" Instrumental Album With Orchestration


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Jeffrey Fisher is truly a modern-day Renaissance Man, not just adept at a few creative tasks, but dozens upon dozens of different ones. Fortunately for music lovers, his latest endeavor is an original neo-classical orchestral music CD, Fairy Tales, that he created specifically as the score for the ballet “Hans Christian Andersen." This is music that stands totally on its own as an enjoyable modern classical listening experience, but it also can enchant children and their families as they envision the original timeless stories the music so aptly illustrates.

Fairy Tales orchestrates three of Andersen's classic children's storybook fantasies - “Inchellina" (sometimes known as “Thumbellina," the tiny adventuresome girl searching for someone her size), “Red Shoes" (the story of a selfish dancer taught an important life lesson) and “The Mermaid" (she falls in love with a human prince, but must make difficult decisions). Fisher uses his musical skills to highlight each instrument of the orchestra in a way that not only illustrates the personalities and emotions of the fictional characters, but also perfectly captures the sound of a full orchestra, even though this recorded version was created, instrument by instrument, layer by layer, on a keyboard synthesizer.

Fisher's CDs can be purchased at select specialty stores and gift shops and online at his website (www.HealingMusicOfTheSouthwest.com), webstores such as www.amazon.com and www.cdbaby.com, and many digital download locations including iTunes.

What makes Jeffrey Fisher a true Renaissance Man? He is an incredibly versatile musician who has professionally performed new age, world music, neo-classical, traditional jazz, blues, rock'n'roll, folk and R&B. He has played more than a dozen different instruments, and is highly proficient on piano and acoustic standup bass. “Whenever my high school band teacher was lacking an instrument for an upcoming concert, he would put me in a practice room for a few weeks and tell me to learn the part," remembers Fisher. “That certainly came in handy later when I started composing for orchestras." He has six previous neo-classical/new age CDs, several specifically designed for healing and massage therapy. His other compositions include works for orchestra, string quartet, marching band, jazz band, jazz vocals, solo piano, woodwinds, and acoustic bass in various ensemble settings. He has performed with jazz great Frank Morgan, the Thelonius Monk-inspired traditional jazz group Evidence Quartet, the Charles Connally Texas Blues Band, Stax Records vocalist Lee Sain, folksinger Sun-Day Martinez, Spanish music legend Antonio Apodaca, and New Mexico's Trio Jalapeno, among others. Fisher even performed Gaelic music on ice instruments at a ski resort situated at 11,000-feet elevation. He graduated from the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles with a certificate in composing and arranging, and went on to study under top teachers to further explore film scoring, orchestration ("We spent a year-and-a-half dissecting every note of Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring'.") and acoustic bass performance (taught by Terry Plumarie and Frank Tusa).

Beyond the world of music, Jeffrey is an accomplished painter (oils and watercolors) who has exhibited in both museums and galleries. He has published five volumes of poetry and a book on Chinese philosophy and martial arts (T'ai Chi Basics). He teaches T'ai Chi Chuan; gives acupressure, reiki and reflexology treatments; and lectures widely on nutrition and healing. Fisher not only believes he can learn anything he sets his mind to, over the years he has taught a wide variety of skills including music, painting, writing, cooking, mathematics, philosophy, and general “educational improvement." He once ran an ad in a newspaper advertising his ability and willingness to “teach anything to anyone." When he wasn't making a living playing music, Jeffrey worked at a variety of jobs including designing and building stage sets off-Broadway, being a motorcycle messenger in New York City, tuning pianos, working in a print-shop and book-bindery in San Francisco, “bucking hay" (stacking bales), picking cherries, cleaning acequias (irrigation ditches) in New Mexico, running art galleries, framing pictures, and building houses (and other construction jobs).

After living and traveling all over the United States, Fisher returned in recent years to the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs, the area where he was born and raised. He often uses nature as inspiration for his art, whether it is fruit groves in his paintings or naturalness in his music. He notes that the album Fairy Tales was composed and recorded totally using solar energy that he installed in his totally off-the-grid home and studio.

He started playing in school bands at age nine with interest in both traditional classical repertoire and the rock'n'roll and rhythm'n'blues he heard on the radio. When he was 13, he read the famous Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda and “other consciousness raising books." Jeffrey attended Pomona College, where he studied writing, music, acting and experimental theatre. Always an avid reader, and inspired by The Beat Generation poets and Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Fisher headed for San Francisco “to be a beatnik poet." After attending the Aspen Writers Workshop and New York University's School of the Arts, Fisher moved to Buffalo to attend the state university there and studied everything from computer languages and neuro-physiology to William Blake and vibraphone. After playing in a popular local rock band and attending the original Woodstock Festival, Fisher began learning guitar and decided to study the origins of blues guitar. Following several years of playing in coffee houses and bars, and traveling across the country several times - one night hanging on to the back of a freight train with one hand with the other holding his 1945 Epiphone acoustic guitar - he ended up in Berkeley where he started playing electric guitar in the blues and R&B “chittlin' circuit" backing legendary artists. Eventually he switched to standup bass and began to explore the world of jazz with his own group. After several years of intense musical studies in Los Angeles, Fisher moved out of the big city to focus on composition and painting. In the early Nineties, he composed his first full-length orchestral composition (performed at his mother's memorial), and also enjoyed the first solo museum exhibition of his paintings.

Fisher relocated to New Mexico in 1994 for nearly a decade and lived in a small village outside of Taos. He got his first computer and used it to begin composing and recording original contemporary classical material released on the CDs Moon Song, One Hundred and Eight, Clouds, The Healing and Angels of the Rays. His recording Triumph of the Spirit was composed to accompany the visionary paintings of Taos artist Charles Collins. Fisher also began teaching T'ai Chi, a method for training the mind and body. “T'ai Chi is the basis for my own philosophy and my life - I feel as if I am doing T'ai Chi all the time. We are so lucky to live in an age of so many progressive ideas; it seems like we're close to a realization that social, political and spiritual consciousness are the same. T'ai Chi helps us slow down, focus, and actually live those ideas; music is a language and a state of being that brings us closer to reality, closer to our true selves. These are arts that can change our world."

After composing and recording the music of Fairy Tales, it served as the performance soundtrack for “Hans Christian Andersen" which premiered in October 2006 at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs. It was performed by the San Gorgonio Ballet (comprised of both children and adults including local dancers as well as professionals from such esteemed companies as the Joffrey). For the piece “Dance of the Butterfly Children," Fisher says, “I tried to capture the joyous, carefree essence of children dancing." For the “Red Shoes" story, Fisher uses darker sounds like that of the oboe to portray the trickster character “The Mad Cobbler" who makes the magical, mystical shoes. Fisher created a waltz for the scene in “The Mermaid" in which she goes to the ball to try to catch her prince. “On this album, I used the full sounds of the orchestra and occasionally gave expressive solos to instruments such as the viola or the bass clarinet that would normally only be heard in the background."

According to Fisher, “Everything I have learned about life goes into my music - philosophy, physical movement, politics, fictional characterizations, visual art, the rhythms of poetry, experimental theater, healing and spiritual beliefs. Everything in life is more interrelated than most people realize."

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