Four years after the passing of Clare Fischer we have another posthumous recording prepared and produced by his son Brent. Brent states that working his father they planned and prepared to release his music and he captured his father with a small group at home in his last years so that other musicians could be added one day. The latest project is this Latin jazz big band album with a number of special guests and featuring Roberta Gambarini, Sheila E, Luis Conte, Scott Whitfield, Don Shelton, and others, with Brent sometimes cresting new arrangements based on his father's original ones.
The album opens with a terrific "Algo Bueno (Something Good)," which is a spirited salsa reworking of Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody 'N' You," with a standout solo from Don Shelton. Fisher's own "Gaviota (Seagull)" is one of two selections with Ms. Gambarini adding her lovely vocal with a dreamy Fischer keyboard solo and a serpentine soprano sax weaving in around Gambarini towards the end of this. The Ellington classic "Rockin' in Rhythm," is reimagined with an Afro-Cuban 6/8 groove with a Rob Hardt tenor sax solo set against the imaginative orchestration here. Sheila E. adds her percussion to "Solar Patrol," with its funky feel and Adam Budman's sax solo while Gambarini returns for the lively, breezy "The Butterfly Samba," singing and scatting at the brisk tempo, with trombonist Whitfield joining her as they scat through the changes with the horns trading fours with them.
The breath of Fischer's compositions and arrangements is displayed with "Renacimiento." The title means Renaissance in Spanish and opens with medieval melodies before shifting to quasi-Latin rhythms with Brian Clancy's robust tenor the first of several fine solos. The "Le Mucura" has Clare Fischer's big band arrangement of this traditional Columbia cumbia with noteworthy soprano sax, trumpet solos and keyboard solos. Another adaptation is Osvaldo Farrés' "Tres Palabras," which Clare Fischer had written and refined arrangements for over time and which Brent and Matt Wong have orchestrated for the lovely performance with a alto flute solo.
The closing "Play Time" is, according to Brent, the last song Clare recorded and appears here on a recording here for the first time with a blistering trombone solo from Francesco Torres that fades out as it keeps percolating with its irresistible rhythms. It is a lively close to another fascinating, imaginative and passionate recording that Brent Fischer has brought us as he helps perpetuate his father's amazing legacy.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the January-February Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 370). Here is the Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band in performance.