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Clare Fischer Big Band | Pacific Jazz

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Pacific Jazz

by Clare Fischer Big Band

40 of the world's finest musicians come together to cross genres: jazz, funk, blues, fusion. Respecting history while paving the future in grand Fischer style.
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Cherokee (feat. Andy Martin & Alex Budman)
7:43 $0.99
2. Jumping Jacks (feat. Brent Fischer & Steve Huffsteter)
6:39 $0.99
3. Cotton Tail (feat. Brent Fischer Orchestra)
7:24 $0.99
4. New Thing (feat. Quinn Johnson, Alex Budman & Ron Stout)
5:50 $0.99
5. Passion (feat. Scott Whitfield)
3:19 $0.99
6. Sad About Nothing Blues (feat. Scott Whitfield & Carl Saunders)
6:02 $0.99
7. Mood Indigo
7:49 $0.99
8. Eleanor Rigby (feat. Brent Fischer, Rob Verdi & Alex Budman)
3:40 $0.99
9. Blues Parisien (feat. Steve Huffsteter)
5:22 $0.99
10. Son of a Dad (feat. Don Shelton, Francisco Torres, Ron Stout & Rob Verdiis)
3:45 $0.99
11. I Loves You Porgy
7:41 $0.99
12. All Out (feat. Scott Whitfield & Quinn Johnson)
5:31 $0.99
13. Ornithardy (feat. Bob Sheppard)
3:50 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept” – Herbie Hancock

Pacific Jazz - Clare Fischer Big Band, Directed by Brent Fischer - Clavo Records

Bob Sheppard
Don Shelton
Alex Budman
Carl Saunders
Ron Stout
Steve Huffsteter
Scott Whitfield
Francisco Torres
Andy Martin

1 Cherokee Noble Arr. C. Fischer Orch. B. Fischer/K. Horn
2 Jumping Jacks Clare Fischer Arr. C. Fischer/B. Fischer
3 Cotton Tail Ellington Arr. C. Fischer
4 New Thing Brent Fischer
5 Passion Clare Fischer
6 Sad About Nothing Blues Brent Fischer /Darlene Koldenhoven
7 Mood Indigo Ellington/Bigard Arr. C. Fischer
8 Eleanor Rigby Lennon/McCartney Arr. C. Fischer/B. Fischer
9 Blues Parisien Clare Fischer
10 Son of a Dad Brent Fischer
11 I Loves You Porgy Gershwin Arr. C. Fischer
12 All Out Winter Arr. B. Fischer
13 Ornithardy Clare Fischer

C P 2014 Clavo Records All rights reserved.
Unauthorized copying or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.

Produced by Brent Fischer

Dr. Clare Fischer – Composer, Arranger, Keyboards except where noted

Brent Fischer – Producer, Composer, Arranger, Conductor, All Mallet Instruments, Six String Electric Bass except where noted, All “Guitar” sounding parts, Auxilliary Keyboards

Woodwinds: Bob Sheppard – Tenor on 13 / Clarinet on 1, Don Shelton and Gary Foster – Alto Sax / Flute on 10, Gene Cipriano – Tenor Sax / Flute on 10, Alex Budman – Soprano and Alto Saxes / Flute / Bb and Alto Clarinets, Kirsten Edkins – Soprano and Alto Saxes / Flute / Clarinet, Brian Clancy – Tenor Sax / Flute / Clarinet; Sean Franz – Tenor Sax / Flute / Clarinet / Bass Clarinet / Oboe, Glenn Morrissette – Tenor Sax / Clarinet on 10, Steve Marsh – Alto Sax / Flute on 2 & 9, Phil Feather and Bob Crosby – Tenor Sax / Clarinet on 2 & 9, Lee Callet – Baritone Sax / Flute / Clarinet, Bob Carr – Bass Sax / Flute / Piccolo / Eb Contrabass Clarinet, Rob Verdi – Sopranino, Soprano and Contrabass Saxes

Trumpets: Carl Saunders, Ron Stout, Rob Schaer, James Blackwell, Brian Mantz, Michael Stever on 4 & 8 (incl. Piccolo Trumpet), Larry McGuire on 10, Josh Aguiar on 2 & 9, Pete Desiena and Steve Huffsteter on 2, 9 & 10

Trombones: Andy Martin on 1 & 13, Scott Whitfield, Jacques Voyemant, Francisco Torres, Robert Soto, Dave Ryan on 1 & 13, Charlie Morillas and Les Benedict on 2, 9 & 10, Morris Repass – Bass Trombone on 2 & 9, Steve Hughes – Bass and Contrabass Trombone

Quinn Johnson – Keyboards on 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 12 & 13, Alan Steinberger – Keyboards on 2, 9 & 10, Ken Wild – Bass (Elec. Bass on 1), Zac Matthews – Bass on 9, Ron Manaog – Drums, David Derge – Drums on 2 & 9, Teddy Campbell – Drums on 10

Recorded at Conway, The Bridge, Stagg Street and Clare Fischer
Studios by Matthew Brownlie, Larry Mah on 11 and Bill Smith on 2, 9 &10

Editing and Keyboard Programming by Matthew Brownlie and Brent Fischer

Mixed by Matthew Brownlie and Brent Fischer except 5, mixed by Rafa Sardina at After Hours Studio

Mastered by Steve Baughman and Mauricio Iragorri at Next Level Mastering

Production Crew: Claris Dodge, Matt Wong, Gianfranco Hidalgo, Ben Sedano, Seth Waldmann, Patrick Spain

Art direction, design & layout: Eddie Iverson for Courant Creative

CD Concept: Brent Fischer, Donna Fischer, Claris Dodge, Zoe Ann Fischer

The Clare Fischer Archive Team: Donna Fischer, Brent Fischer, Michael Kahr, Eddie Iverson, Gary Foster, Steve Khan, Paul Fischer, Tim Fischer, David Speed, Craig Mansfield, Shant Kabadayan, Matt Wong and Keith Horn

Clare Fischer’s signature digital keyboard sound designed by Brent Fischer
Brent Fischer plays Contour Basses
Scott Whitfield is a Getzen trombone artist/clinician
Rob Verdi uses SKB Musical Instrument Cases
Jacques Voyemant appears courtesy of Elyria Records
Ron Manaog uses Drum Workshop drums, Zildjian cymbals and sticks
Andy Martin, Robert Soto and Rob Schaer are Yamaha Performing Artists
Teddy Campbell uses Pro Mark, Yamaha, Remo and Zildjian equipment

Roland C230 Organ provided by ChurchKeyboard.com
Specialty Microphones provided by Steve Rusch

CD Manufacturing and Printing by Disc Makers

All Compositions Clare Fischer Productions / Brent Fischer Music - BMI
except: Cherokee / Shapiro Bernstein – ASCAP, Cotton Tail / Robbins – ASCAP, Mood Indigo / Indigo Mood Music – ASCAP, Eleanor Rigby / Northern Songs – PRS, I Loves You Porgy / WB Music - ASCAP All Out / EMI Longitude - BMI

Photos by Brent Fischer, Heather Lemmon, Gianfranco Hidalgo, Larry Steen, Matthew Brownlie, Claris Dodge

My father, Dr. Clare Fischer, created incisive timeless music during his 65 year career, the latter half right before my very eyes here in Los Angeles. He knew how to groove with intense emotion, whether soloing over intricate chord changes, conducting a large ensemble or reading through a Bach chorale.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I started working with him 35 years ago, I was at the beginning of an epic journey that would gradually allow me to see music from his unique perspective. As I continue now, it is with the greatest gift a father could leave a son: his handwritten scores. Through them I can peer deeply into his intellect, his emotions and his unparalleled harmonic and orchestrational vocabulary. If a picture tells a thousand words, then a score tells millions, for it is one of the most profound forms of communication: through music notation.
It is with great satisfaction that I’m able to again bring more of his scores to life here as well as further fulfilling his request from a decade ago to write for his ensembles. A fine music construction is like a gorgeous work of architecture – enjoyable by most from the outside but even more incredible for those able to go inside and marvel at how the individual parts were combined to become art. I will always love studying his scores for inspiration.
Thanks to our careful planning during his last years, he was able to participate in and hear much of the music on this album. I have carefully chosen and combined some of the finest musicians in the world spanning five generations, including members of the original Clare Fischer Big Band from 45 years ago. On behalf of my father and I, we sincerely hope you enjoy the new material contained in this album:

Cherokee – I was first amazed by my father’s groundbreaking arrangement of this classic for his 30-piece Clare Fischer Jazz Corps group 15 years ago. Ever since, I have wanted to orchestrate it for big band (which, in this case, seems an ironic designation) but never quite had the time to do it. Keith Horn, a gifted student of mine and member of The Clare Fischer Archive team, helped me fulfill my creative vision of finding a way for 18 players to do what previously had taken 30.
Amongst many fine versions of this song I’ve heard over the decades, my father’s stands out to me as a complete re-imagining. It’s a freshly created aesthetic that’s still absolutely recognizable compared with the original. Rather than melody and chords flying by, though, they are spread out through changing (yet still toe-tapping) meters. Intricately woven counter lines and passing chords are in just the right places. Deftly navigating these changes with clever inventiveness are soloists Andy Martin on trombone and Alex Budman on alto sax.

Jumping Jacks – Although this is a brand-new piece to the public, to me it is a childhood favorite. I have very early memories of dancing around to Dad playing this at the piano. It would be nearly 4 decades though, while archiving the Clare Fischer Music Library, until I discovered an untitled score. I instantly recognized it, upon reading through the first page, as being this song. His arrangement is one of a collection of unrecorded scores that feature the entire sax family, from sopranino down to contrabass. Because they also feature multiple keyboards, including organ, the instrumentation (besides the saxes) and arrangements are comparatively sparse. I asked him if I could re-orchestrate and further develop his ideas for big band and he agreed.
I’ve arranged it in such a way that all 9 sax parts are included here but we can still play it live with only(!) 6 saxes, the standard Fischer line up. With my extended range six string bass, I was able to play the guitar part and did a “guitar” solo. Then I took a vibraphone solo, where I sometimes used 3 mallets in each hand in order to play 5 and 6 part harmony. The soulful trumpet solo is by a deeply respected colleague who’s been around since the beginning of the band: Steve Huffsteter.

Cotton Tail – When I was about 8, my dad came back from a session and told me that, while he had been warming up to record, he noticed Duke Ellington had entered the studio. Dad then said “I immediately started playing a medley of my favorite Duke tunes with all my hippest twists and turns thrown in.” After he was finished playing, Duke came up, put a hand on his shoulder and said “Now that’s the way my music was meant to be played.”
We went to see Duke perform that year and enjoyed it immensely but what I remember most that night is my dad’s emotional response to what he was hearing. I watched as he reacted to every nuance with a giant smile, often with tears in his eyes. If only Duke could hear Dad’s new arrangement for that grandest of settings: big band plus full orchestra.
My father has taken his favorite lines from the original Ellington recording and interlaced them into a larger work with influences from his other favorite composers: Bartok and Shostakovich. He transcribed Ben Webster’s singular tenor solo and harmonized it for two tenors and baritone. Then he re-orchestrated and further developed the shout chorus. There is also new thematic material derived from the original ideas and interspersed throughout but the best part is his incredible keyboard solo. It is a paragon of spontaneous composition, which is really what improvising is.

New Thing – Orginally written for a quartet in 1990, the title refers to something that is created in a different way than before, not something that is trending or counter to a timeless approach. In this case, the different way was for me to compose this piece as a computer sequence that would still be playable by humans. Because the computer can play back the piece with full “instrumentation” as it’s being written, my dad really enjoyed listening to this take shape.
Another difference in this case is that, after 25 years of putting pencil to score paper, I arranged this piece using music notation software; so it’s really an opener of sorts rather than a finale. Lastly, I have blended symphonic and jazz elements with funk and the progressive rock philosophy of using the occasional odd meter as a natural extension of compositional ideas rather than for its own sake. I’m really grateful to the band for fully expressing my creative vision, including doing the arithmetic to get some of the unusual rhythms. Scintillating solos here are from Alex Budman on alto sax, Ron Stout on flugel and Quinn Johnson on keyboards.

Passion – This is a rare glimpse into the beginning of genius, as it was written by my father about 70 years ago when he was 16. There’s no date on the score but I have a 78 rpm record of him playing this song at the piano from 1945 and I recognize his handwriting style being similar to other pieces he wrote in his youth. I also have a 9 piece arrangement of it that he played with his band while in college.
This work is significant in several ways: it shows that Dad was a fully formed composer as a teenager, and even though it has timeless beauty, it is definitely a period piece with that 1940s ethos (and we thought we’d never find another gem from that era). The band did a brilliant job of respecting performance practices of the day and creating a rich sound that modern microphones can capture. Master engineer Rafa Sardina did a magnificent job of mixing this to create the feeling that you are in a grand dance hall with great acoustics. How I envy those of you who were around to hear a young Clare Fischer play with his band in the 1940s and 50s.

Sad About Nothing Blues – You never know what life experiences can lead to the creation of a song. I was recently working with a lyricist who was adding words to an instrumental song by my dad. I had thought of it as a happy tune because the title made reference to great times my father shared with his loving wife, my stepmother Donna.
It was a surprise when the first draft of the lyrics were about yearning. We told the lyricist that we felt the song should be about fulfillment instead. The response we got was “It’s a blues!”, meaning that it had to have some lament to be proper. That may be historically correct when thinking about the origins of the blues, but for how long are we to share our misery through the blues before they actually bring us out of them? We compromised on lyrics that all could accept but it made me think about how my father saw the blues.
For my whole life, I remember the blues being a source of joy, creativity and satisfaction to my father so that’s how I’ve always viewed them myself. I watched him play them with a smile on his face for decades and that uplifting spirit can be heard in dozens of his albums that contain blues, including this one. When he was down, he’d write a ballad, not a blues, so I thought that this philosophy should be expressed verbally.
I contacted veteran singer/songwriter Darlene Koldenhoven and asked her if she would put words to a blues I was writing about not really having anything to be sad about. She happily accepted, especially when I told her that the featured singers would be guys who are not only outstanding vocalists, but also some of the best musicians I know: Scott Whitfield and Carl Saunders. Also featured instrumentally with Scott on trombone and Carl on trumpet are Kirsten Edkins on alto and Lee Callet on clarinet. I’ve got nothing to be sad about the way these blues turned out.

Mood Indigo – Those of you who like to hear my father on grand piano are in for a treat on this one. He preferred electric keyboards for their consistency of tuning and longer sustain, but he also had a beautiful grand that he loved digging into when he felt the situation was right.
His exceptional arrangement here often juxtaposes high instruments in their low registers with low instruments at the top of their range for out-of-this-world orchestrational effects, including bass sax taking the melody at one point accompanied by muted brass, soprano sax and clarinet.

Eleanor Rigby – Here’s another song I remember hearing my father play with his distinct voicings when I was a child and decades later found a score for. As with Jumping Jacks, I have reorchestrated and rearranged it in a way that we can play it with our regular big band instrumentation but have included all 9 sax parts here and the guitar part. I also loved adding contrabass trombone to this recording, played with utmost expressivity by Steve Hughes.
Most enjoyable though, was developing my father’s ideas that merged E minor and C7 chords together through many different voicings (something I can’t find annother example of in any other piece): because there are 2 notes in common, they almost don’t sound polytonal until you think outside of the octave. I’m so pleased to be able to present this work this year to mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first appearance in the United States.

Blues Parisien – Talk about another happy blues! This is the second arrangement Dad has written of his composition that first appeared on one of his clarinet choir albums. The band had a great time laying this down and Steve Huffsteter’s solo is phenomenal.

Son of a Dad – Some of my earliest memories are of lying down underneath the piano with our family dog, Bachi, and listening to my dad write. A few decades later, as a member of The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Group, I started contributing small ideas to his tunes.
Here then is a song that I wrote where he made a few small but important contributions, all while lying under the piano with his cat, Fina, listening to me write. One of his contributions: the voicing for the chord beneath the highest note in the first phrase of the melody.
Featured on this aggressive tour-de-force are the vituosic talents of Don Shelton on alto sax, Rob Verdi on contrabass sax (what a contrast!), Francisco Torres on Trombone, Ron Stout on trumpet and the incomparable Teddy Campbell on drums.

I Loves You Porgy – Dad usually played a solo keyboard piece during a live set and so I thought it a nice idea to include one here too. This was one of those many pieces that came out in the best possible way: he would dream about it in his sleep, then it would just flow out of him effortlessly the next morning in the studio. There are several pieces that came to life this way on the first album I produced for him, Introspectivo. They are all standards that he had known inside out for decades and could play in all 12 keys.

All Out – This is a tune that Dad and I enjoyed listening to, so I decided to treat it the same way he did with Cotton Tail: reharmonize and reorchestrate the melody and the solos. In addition to the original solo lines, which are now developed thematic material (with some very difficult parts expertly executed by Kirsten Edkins, Rob Schaer and James Blackwell among others), there are new solos by Quinn Johnson on Piano and Scott Whitfield on trombone. It’s great to have both of these guys in the band because, besides being tremendous players, they are fearless and can handle anything we Fischers put in front of them. I feel the same way about lead altoist Alex Budman, who I often refer to as my concertmaster.

Ornithardy – A new Clare Fischer arrangement of one of his classic compositions. Originally written for french horns, low brass and woodwinds on his album Extension, I just recently found this alternate version for big band in his music library. Naturally, I had to ask Bob Sheppard to take the tenor solo on this. Bob’s tonal colorations here are intrinsically attuned to the rare character of the piece.

This album took over 4 years to prepare and contains writing that spans 7 decades. In my continuing efforts to fulfill all the plans my father and I made, my engineer Matthew Brownlie has been indespensible. He makes it possible for me to meticulously address every nut and bolt of the sonic architecture. All who participated in this album gave their very best to the music, for which I am deeply appreciative. I thank all of you who are listening very much for your support as I carry on the Clare Fischer legacy.

--Brent Fischer

C P 2014 Clavo Records All rights reserved.
Unauthorized copying or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.



to write a review

Simon Pilbrow

More Fischer Magic
by Simon Pilbrow, December 6, 2014
This 2014 release of more previously unrecorded and/or previously unreleased masterworks is, as expected, a treat of imaginative compositions and arrangements by the late master Clare Fischer, and by his son Brent Fischer who tirelessly continues to present and record his father’s fine musical legacy.

Clare Fischer preferred a six-member reed section of skilled doublers on the full range of the saxophone, flute and clarinet families, which permitted all the many fine woodwind colours and textures that can be heard here, along with the rich blends of sounds he could generate from his brass sections. The first rate, multi-generational lineup of musicians represented in these recordings includes many alumni from five decades of Clare’s musical output, and a host of younger players who have joined the heavyweight ranks of their erstwhile colleagues, dedicated to bringing this great music to life. The solo skills of brass players Andy Martin, Scott Whitfield, Ron Stout, Carl Saunders, Steve Huffsteter and the saxophonists Alex Budman, Bob Sheppard and Don Shelton are particularly featured, alongside piano solos of Clare Fischer himself, nicely blended into many of the recordings. The piano chair is also shared by Alan Steinberger and Quinn Johnson, in a fine rhythm section, mostly of bassist Ken Wild and drummer Ron Manoag.

Clare Fischer’s arrangements of four standards are featured, beginning with his imaginative, time-bending and harmonically rich arrangement of Ray Noble’s Cherokee, heard on an earlier Jazz Corps recording but re-orchestrated for the big band lineup by Brent and colleague Keith Horn, spliced with fine solos from Martin and Budman. Also included are a fine reworking of Ellington’s ‘Cottontail’ for big band and orchestra, which blends authentic Ellington sounds with a half-time section flavoured with Clare’s Shostakovichian colours, and a recasting of Mood Indigo that captures remarkably the normally inimitable Ellington saxophone section sound with the gruff Carney-like anchoring beneath. The inclusion of Clare’s thoughtful solo performance of Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy” creates a fine contrast from the big sounds of the large ensemble and has a poignant mood all of its own. A fifth ‘standard’ is Clare’s fine arrangement of ‘Eleanor Rigby’.

One of the remarkable pieces brought to light in this recording is Clare’s own composition, the very fine ‘Passion’, composed and arranged in 1945 when he was about seventeen, or perhaps younger. This time-capsule of pre-bebop jazz writing demonstrates the highly developed musical mind of the young composer, and the extent to which he had already assimilated much of the styles, sounds and substance of Ellington, Kenton and ‘First-Herd’ Ralph Burns of the mid-forties. We can all be grateful that he did not stop there.

The delightfully rocking ‘Jumping Jacks’, with its charming and contrasting middle section includes a fine, all-too-rare vibraphone solo from Brent, who has mastered demanding six-mallet techniques, and a fine trumpet solo from Steve Huffsteter, another long-time Fischer alumnus. The welcome inclusion of a big band reworking of Clare’s beautiful composition ‘Ornithardy’, originally recorded in 1962 with a very different line-up, features a brilliant and probing solo from tenor saxophone master Bob Sheppard.

Brent Fischer’s ‘New Thing’ captures the deep influences of his father’s harmonic and orchestrational world and some outer-space sounds of his own in a rhythmically challenging piece that features a superb Ron Stout flugelhorn solo. Brent’s ‘Sad About Nothing Blues’ is a fun feature for the brass talents of trumpeter Carl Saunders and trombonist Scott Whitfield who will happily translate their brilliant brass articulations into the spoken word...ahem…scatting, at any opportunity. Brent’s ‘Son Of A Dad’ sounds more like son than dad, and shows off some delightful low-frequency sounds from Rob Verdi’s contrabass sax and Francisco Torres’ trombone, along with the irrepressible five-decades-plus Fischer associate, Don Shelton on alto sax. Brent’s fine and adventurous arrangement of the remarkable Edgar Winter tune “All Out” is a nice feature for fine Johnson piano and Whitfield trombone solo excursions.

This big band feature of the music of father and son Fischer and their fine friends is yet another great addition to recent and earlier chapters in a great musical legacy, and demands close and repeated listening to find all the treasures. The music is complex and a challenge to play, but is executed with great accuracy, care and feeling by all concerned. As usual the liner notes and credits are detailed and informative, and give a great deal of insight into the genesis of the pieces and how they all fit together in this very enjoyable recording.