This is my 50th recording as a solo artist. When I reflect back on all the music in my life, I can’t help but think about the pieces I wrote that have yet to be released. There is much material and several years ago I asked my son Brent to see that it all gets done. He has worked tirelessly and, having absorbed my style over the decades, is uniquely qualified to direct these recordings, in some cases finishing works for me so, at my age, I can just listen and enjoy. Below are his recollections about making this CD. This CD is but one fine example of all the music to come.
-- Clare Fischer
Greetings Clare Fischer connoisseurs! I want to personally thank you for the enthusiasm that has kept this group going for more than 30 years now. From the beginning, when the group was called Clare Fischer and Salsa Picante present 2+2, to later years when it was changed to Clare Fischer and Friends, and now as The Clare Fischer Voices and Latin Jazz Group, this timeless music has remained on the cutting edge of creativity.
One of the most compelling reasons for the release of this CD was that much of the written music was composed/arranged for no other reason than the sheer joy of doing so. After charts were finished over the years, they were put away and more pressing matters dealt with. It was only through organizing the music library to be archived that I “discovered” them.
Besides the unparalleled style of writing, melding both jazz and symphonic influences, an important concept that distinguishes this group is Clare Fischer’s idea that the choir, when not singing acapella, functions as an integral part of the ensemble, much as the clarinets do in The Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir, as opposed to the singer/back-up band concept. In this way, each song presents a different orchestrational coloring. I hope you will enjoy the variety encompassed by the following:
Tom Cat – A Clare Fischer original - lyrics and music - inspired by one of his pets, 2 arrangements exist; one with vocals and one without. Each has its own crafty features so I have blended them into this singular version. Notice how my father’s clever programmatic treatment of his lyric is creatively superb while gently poking fun at the mediocrity of typical programmatic music at the same time!
Mood Indigo – Clare Fischer has arranged many versions of this classic because he loves it so much. Besides one for big band, he also wrote one for full orchestra to accompany a solo voice. After that was released, he liked the orchestration so much that he wrote a corresponding 6 part vocal score but never recorded it. Upon seeing both scores and realizing that we didn’t have the budget for such a huge undertaking, I decided to arrange an orchestral reduction for jazz quintet. The 5 and 6 note chords in the vibraphone part are done using a 6 mallet grip (3 in each hand) I designed in order to play Fischer harmonies. The part that sounds like a nylon string guitar is actually my 6 string bass cleverly engineered.
America the Beautiful – It’s a wonder that, out of all the numerous arrangements of this grand song, none utilize that most noble and befitting setting: true six part harmony. Until now, that is! I can’t think of a finer way to present such an enduring melody, especially with the interplay between choir and piano, played to perfection by our good friend Bryan Pezzone, that my dad devised.
Una Mañana (Morning in Spanish) – For years Clare Fischer has enjoyed his classic tune Morning being a Latin standard in many countries and covered numerous times, both vocally and instrumentally, by other great artists. He has also been frustrated, however, by some who unilaterally wrote their own lyrics for the song and recorded without permission. Being fluent in Spanish, he feels strongly that these unauthorized versions infringe on his intellectual property rights and demean the original concept behind the lyrics. I decided to put the record straight by writing a new vocal arrangement appropriate for the thoughtful content of the Spanish lyrics, written by Barbara Ransom, while keeping the original Latin groove we have played with the band now for more than 3 decades. The keyboard solo is a great example of what the other band members and I have enjoyed listening to my father play on hundreds of live performances.
Esta es la única letra en español de la canción Morning (Una Mañana) que ha sido oficialmente autorizada por Clare Fischer.
This is the only Spanish lyric to the song Morning (Una Mañana) that has been officially authorized by Clare Fischer.
I Should Care – Judging by the condition of the score paper when I found it, this must’ve been written in the late 1950s/early 60s. Amazing then to think that, out of all the great renditions of this standard over the decades, none employ what has to be one of the most beautiful of settings: the six voice choir. To my mind, the chordal framework and inner voice counterpoint bring out the emotional impact of the lyrics as never before.
Chopin Etude Opus 10, No. 6 – I have great childhood memories of hearing my father play piano exercises from Bach, Mozart and Chopin. What a surprise it was to find this hiding in his library! Upon first looking at my father’s vocal score, I was immediately aware from the type of syncopations that he had treated it as a Bossa. With that in mind, I wrote a concurrent instrumental arrangement to blend with the choir.
Bachi – Those who remember this classic from the first Clare Fischer and Salsa Picante recording will notice how smoothly the writing translates into a vocal version. Not that it is easy; this has to be one of the more difficult Fischer songs to master because of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic structures that, while not sounding convoluted or tricky, are actually quite complex. All are achieved here with utmost attention to creative expression from the players. It was a great honor to have the participation of longtime friend, keyboardist Cor Bakker, one of Dad’s finest students and now successful in his native Holland and throughout Europe, where he acts as musical ambassador for all things Clare Fischer. Solos: Brent Fischer/Vibraphone, Cor Bakker/Keyboards, Kevin Ricard/Percussion
If – The motivation for my adaptation here was to vocally showcase the harmonic treatment Dad had used on several of his instrumental arrangements of this song over the decades.
You’re my Thrill – Arranged for the Hi-Los just before my father moved on to other ventures. I found it in pristine condition with his other Hi-Los pieces and knew it should be heard. Writing a fitting instrumental arrangement to go with the vocal score was difficult because the leadsheet is no longer published. Thankfully, our family friend, pianist Roberta Mandel, was able to send us a copy from her extensive collection of jazz standards. That didn’t solve everything though because Dad had taken creative liberties and his arrangement didn’t always match up with the leadsheet. I became a detective and researched the not so obvious differences. Along the way I invented a new field I like to call Forensic Musicology; I went back to the scene of the incident and talked to people like Don Shelton and Clark Burroughs who were there. Finally all the pieces came together. Naturally, I asked Don to take a vocal solo on this. My father has always said that Don is a rare breed; as talented and versatile of a singer as he is a woodwind player, and I agree. Don has added so much to the music of Clare Fischer over the decades, just as the music of Clare Fischer has added to the Hi-Los and Singers Unlimited.
Last Night When We Were Young – These lyrics hold special meaning for my father as he contemplates all he has experienced in his life. It was fitting then that he narrate in front of the lush backdrop he created for the choir.
Waiting for Jack’s Plane – This song represents the fulfilled dream of a young son. When I was a teenager and had been working a while with Clare Fischer and Salsa Picante, we were about to make the third 2+2 album when the record company cancelled the project. This is one of the songs that was partly completed at that time. I had just gotten to hear Dad rehearse the first half with the singers and had been struck by its intense beauty. Let down by the album cancellation, he only played it a few more times that year and then put it out of his mind but by then I had memorized it. Lingering in my head for decades, I found a finished piano version in 2002. I made sure that it went onto his next solo piano CD, Introspectivo. Then in 2008 I came across the untitled half completed vocal score and was able to finish it and write an instrumental arrangement using the piano leadsheet and my memories as a guide. It is with great satisfaction that, 30 years later, I could finally realize the creative vision I witnessed my father set forth. The phenomenal soprano sax solo is by the lead woodwind player from the Clare Fischer Big Band, Alex Budman.
The Boy Next Door – This is yet another gem, written and recorded in the 1990s just because Dad felt like it. I was out of the country at the time and so was unaware of this project. Somehow he never got around to releasing it so I’m glad I found the 24 track tape and was able to successfully transfer it to a digital medium in order to include it here.
Happy Time – I had heard my father playing this at his home for years and we played it instrumentally on gigs for a while even though he had never fully written it out. It was a great surprise then to find the untitled vocal score, which I recognized as being an arrangement of this same tune. From it I was able to infer chord changes to make a corresponding band arrangement. I especially like the idea that this piece and my father’s solo proves that a cheerful, upbeat song can exist in a minor tonality.
When Your Lover has Gone – It seems that in the late 1950s there was talk of a female singer doing some recording with the Hi-Los. Dad was asked to write something for them but then somehow the recording never happened and this 5 voice masterpiece sat in the library all these decades. This may be the only acapella arrangement of this song that’s released.
I’m Fine – Upon returning from the hospital in the late 1980s, my father wrote this lyric with indications for the vocal rhythms, but never got around to making a melody and writing a complete song. After years of Donna, his wife, and I urging him to finish it, he finally turned over the task to me. I knew instantly what I had to do: use my electric bass in an old style jazz guitar fashion, get one of the finest clarinet players and jazz brush master drummers, then recreate that fine feeling my dad knew in his youth. The resulting original composition gave me a marvelous opportunity to go back to an era before I was born. While the song may be reminiscent of the early 20th century, the instrumentation and asymmetrical phrasing presumed from the lyrics are certainly not, which is in keeping with a timeless approach to the creation of art. Gary Foster’s clarinet solo is a paragon of this concept.
So What Do I Care? – A true time capsule: first conceived by Dad’s mother and her brother when Dad was a kid, then arranged and recorded by Dad when I was a kid, I found the unreleased and aging 24 track tape a few years ago. I remember hearing this tune while growing up and marveling at what my dad did with it. Now it was up to me to get it ready for release. I just wish I knew who the musicians and vocalists were but those records weren’t kept. After the tape to digital transfer, I began going through the tracks, which sounded great even after 40 years except for one thing; the electric bass was still in its infancy back then and although the part was well played it had a tubby sound typical of that era. With the original charts in the music library, I was able to overdub a new bass track. Now the 80 year journey of this song is complete: from conception in the 1930s to tracking in the 1970s to finalization in the 2010s plus I got to experience playing with my father when he was the same age as I am now!
Memories of Gold – Originally titled Anniversario and written for some friends’ 50th anniversary, this piece showcases Clare Fischer the lyricist. This was also recovered from a session taped in the 1990s.
Manhã (Morning in Portuguese) -- For this Portuguese lyric to the Clare Fischer standard Morning I felt it was important to treat it in a Brazilian stylistic manner. Fortunately, we know of no Brazilian artist who has released a version of Morning with unauthorized translations of the lyrics, but we have received requests to do so. We are thankful to those that respected the right of Clare Fischer to decide on his own translation, especially since he speaks Portuguese, and are happy to present this song as a tribute to his love of all things Brazilian. I have set the lyrics, written by Daniel Cytrynowicz, and corresponding band arrangement to reflect the smooth sounds of guitar oriented Bossa Nova. We don’t have a guitarist in our group so I interpreted from my father’s Baden Powell influence to come up with chord comping patterns and a solo on my 6 string bass.
Esta e a única letra em Português da canção Morning (Manhã) que foi oficialmente autorizada por Clare Fischer.
This is the only Portuguese lyric to the song Morning (Manhã) that has been officially authorized by Clare Fischer.
Love at Home – This Clare Fischer arrangement is a commission from Gary Jones for his own vocal group but we liked the way it turned out so much we had to present it here too. One interesting aspect of this splendid treatment is that it is only in four part harmony and yet is brimming with unusual voicings, each one having just the right character for the moment, neither overwhelming in complexity nor understated in expressivity.
Pan Pipe Dance – This original by my father first appeared on a recording we did with the latin jazz group in the 80s. Shortly after we finished recording a new arrangement of it he wrote for the Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir in 2005, I found a 5 part vocal arrangement. Unlike the other 2 versions, this one has a completely different development section and some very subtle alterations to the harmonies accompanying the melody—if you want a real test for your ears, I invite you to compare them. When the singers first saw the new section, they had trouble imagining the tonality of the wild harmonies. Being familiar with my father’s style, I immediately recognized his skillful blending of Shostakovich type polyharmony with Ellingtonian blues riffs and was able to deduce chord changes. From there, I had a great time putting together an instrumental arrangement for the singers to work with, laying down marimba and bass solos, then finally getting Don Shelton and Dad to add their superb improvisations.
To say this CD has been a long time in the making would be an understatement considering that it represents almost a century of vocal jazz history. These will all be included in the Clare Fischer Archive for scholars to study far into the future. Now you the listener are part of this history.
-- Brent Fischer
Dr. Clare Fischer All Keyboards (except where noted), Narration on 10, Vocals on 15
Brent Fischer All Electric Basses, Vibraphone, Marimba, Shakers, Rainstick, Additional Keyboards
Cor Bakker Keyboards on 7
Bryan Pezzone Piano on 3
Don Shelton All Woodwinds (except where noted), Baritone Vocal on 12 and 17, Vocal Solo on 9
Mary Hylan Soprano Vocal
Angie Jaree Alto Vocal
Gary Jones Tenor Vocal
David Joyce Tenor Vocal
Ian Freebairn-Smith Baritone Vocal on 2, 3, 5, 8, 10 and 11
Bob Joyce Baritone Vocal on 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 18, Bass Vocal on 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 20
Darlene Koldenhoven Soprano Vocal on 19
Melissa Mackay Alto Vocal on 12 and 17
Michael Redman Tenor Vocal on 19
John Laird Baritone Vocal on 19
Gary Foster Clarinet on 15
Alex Budman Soprano Sax on 11
Enzo Todesco Drums except on 15
Kendall Kay Drums on 15
Kevin Ricard Percussion
Executive Producer: Clare Fischer
Producer: Brent Fischer
Engineers: Larry Mah, Assen Stoyanov, Preston Boebel, Greg Hayes, Matt Brownlie
Mastering Engineer: Stephanie Villa at Stephen Marsh Mastering
Vibraphone Technician: Matt Brownlie
Keyboard Technician: Gerald Thompson
CD Design & Layout: Eddie Iverson
CD Cover Concept: Brent Fischer and Donna Fischer
Cover Photo: Heather Lemmon
Clare Fischer’s Signature Keyboard Sound created by Clare Fischer and programmed by Brent Fischer