04/27/09 By wen mew
Clare Fischer's Surprise 80th Birthday Party Last October!
Clare's wife Donna and son Brent surprised Clare by performing some of his music of the last 30 years!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Composing and arranging genius CLARE FISCHER'S 80TH birthday was actually October 22nd.
so when Clare and his wife Donna entered the Sportsman Lodge in Studio City, Ca. Monday evening the 20th, Clare almost had a heart attack when he saw about a 1000 friends and musicians had gathered to give him a surprise birthday concert.
Donna and Clare's son Brent, heir apparent in all ways musicially had gottten everyone together without Clare knowing a thing, all the musicians from former ensembles, singers, choirs, string orchestra, jazz corps, big bands. The got together, rehearsed and presented Clare with some of the creative genius of some 65 years of composing and arranging.Of course many involved were not even born, when Clare wrote some of his first works, like a masterpiece he wrote for CELLO AND STRINGS when he was still in high school (even more ambitious than BILLY STRAYHORN'S LUSH LIFE, written by Strays when he was still in high school. Clare's harmonic genius must have begun when he was in the womb. That's why i advise parents to sing and play music for their kids while in the womb when brain nerves are beginning to grow.
Since Brent Fischer (who often ghost writes for Clare without getting
credit) needed many musicians to make this birthday concert happen, he tapped the incredible talents of those from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, virtusoso students and graduates from U.S.C.'s Thornton School Of Music and the like.
The best musicians from Socal studios were present with incredible solos from the likes of CARL SAUNDERS, (This guy creates gorgeously long lyrical lines and never has to breathe.) Steve Huffsteder, a main stay of the GERALD WILSON ORCHESTRA, THE TABACKIN-AKIYOSHI ORCHESTRA, and his own groups, Gary Foster , one of the top woodwind players in the world, Don Shelton, one of the greatest vocalists, woodwind players in the world, Les Benedict, a main stay of Royal Hawaiian Orchestra and Gerald Wilson's bone man who flew in for the night.
Brent opened the evening presenting THE CLARE FISCHER LATIN JAZZ SEXTET from the 70s, some of the finest of socal's studio singers. You might hear these vocalists and musicians on movie themes, commercials, and never know them in person. I'm sorry, but I can't remember and name the dozens of great musicians involved this evening. (just email clare or go to his website www.clarefischer.com)
Kurt Weil's SPEAK LOW was a wonderful showcase for Clare's arranging talents with suberb harmony for the voices, room for solos and Shelton's lyrical flute obligatos. Even with Clare's harmonic glory, there is always a need for a cooking rhythm section to lay a foundation. the voices really remind me of SUPERSAX AND THE L.A. VOICES with SUE RANEY, Med Flory's cd which i play nearly everyday. but Clare is much, much, more adventurous harmonically, constant surprises in terms of notes and chords. The harmonic climax at the end of his compositions and arrangements cannot be match by any other composer, arranger on this earth. If college and high school vocal groups want to distinguish themselves they should buy CLARE FISCHER COMPOSITIONS AND ARRANGEMENTS.
Clare's version of FREEDOM JAZZ DANCE was as hip as EDDIE HARRiS and with voices, you'll never hear anything like this except maybe the NEW YORK VOICES OR MANHATTAN TRANSFER. I wonder why the TRANSFER never asked Clare for arrangements. PRINCE did and the rest is history, big bucks for everyone involved. Again the harmony is so far out, you would never think the piece could be resolved, but that's the secret, GO OUT and then resolve it. Tempo changes, aboslutely magnificent arranging, good piano solos, again Shelton's soprano just in the right place. again the rhythm section is really happening. THE RHYTHM SECTION MUST ALWAYS BE HAPPENING, OR YOU STOP AND GET EVERYONE IN THE POCKET. Here you have voices and instruments grooving like there's no tomorrow. (and you never know, there may be no tomorrow.) Clare has the voices sustaining chords, and the band is cooking like hell, just incredible stuff.
an unrecorded version by CLARE, of AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL, voices and piano; just perfect for Barack's inauguration. THIS IS AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! SINCE RAY CHARLES'S VERSION WAS FINE FOR THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. THOSE DAYS ARE LONG GONE. IF MUSIC CAN EXEMPLIFY THE BEAUTY AND GLORY OF OUR DEMOCRATIC FORM OF GOVERNMENT, ( even if it's socialistic) IT'S CLARE FISCHER'S ARRANGEMENT OF AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.
Brent then presented Clare's arrangements and compositions for THE CLARINET CHOIR. This was glorified dinner music as clarinets with ebony, wood give you woodwind beauty and sound uniquely its own. the entire clarinet family was represented from Bb clarinets, alto clarinets, bass clarinets and contra bass clarinets. (ONLY CLARE FISCHER CAN HEAR HOW THESE INSTRUMENTS, WOODWIND, BRASS, AND STRINGS CAN BE EXPRESSED, SEPARATELY AND TOGETHER). A clarinet choir is so subtle, but profound. A saxophone choir is not subtle. Clare's passages for the clarinets would showcase the dexerity of a BENNY GOODMAN, ARTIE SHAW, BUDDY DEFRANCO, AND TODAY EDDIE DANIELS, DON BYRON, MS COHEN, PACQUITO D'RIVERA. but on this evening you have many clarinet masters in socal doing the job, symphony players and jazz players like DON SHELTON, GARY FOSTER. Lots of great counter point, harmonically adventurous ensemble passages to Clare's compositions and arrangements. but this is all of clare's writing whether it's for brass, THE JAZZ CORPS, woodwinds, or strings. Clare has to be the preeminent arranger for strings.
SOME OUT OF SIGHT CLARINET VOICING, HARMONY INTRODUCED A DUKE-STRAYHORN PIECE THAT WAS TOUGH TO RECOGNIZE BECAUSE OF THE FAR OUT HARMONY. (JUST THINK IF DUKE, STRAYHORN AND CLARE HAD HAD A CHANCE TO COLLABORATE.)
The big band opened it's set with a fine groove, BLUES PARIESENNE featuring the great STEVE HUFFSTEDER ON trumpet. I first heard Steve some 20 years ago at the JAZZ SHOWCASE IN CHICAGO with the touring TABACKIN-AKIYOSHI ORCHESTRA. Steve was great then and now with a few gray hairs, even better. i reviewed this piece, and CITY BY THE LAKE on one of the band's gig earlier this year. (scroll below at
www.wenjaz.blogspot.com) This is a sophisticated blues for CLEVELAND. The residents there need some of this musical beauty if they're going to survive present hardships. "LAKE" showcased one of the finest trumpeters in the world, CARL SAUNDERS whose lyrical beauty and chops never ends. (I'd like to see CARL JAM WITH THE LIKES OF ARTURO SANDOVAL, WYNTON, JON FADDIS, ROY HARGROVE et al. I'll put my money on
Give it up for percussionist KENDALL KAY who anchored the rhythm section all evening. you have to be able to read Clare's charts and not just wing it.
CLARE'S hip "MORNING", composed in the 60s and which has become a jazz standard was presented with string orchestra, a dozen violins, 4 cellists and two double bass players. It opens hip with the electric piano, then the flutes, then muted trumpets; the bridge showcases Clare's very advanced harmony; the strings provide a beautiful backdrop for the ensemble and soloists; a tasteful keyboard solo, a fine flugelhorn solo, (I love to see classical violinists swing.), The bridge in MORNING, great vehicle for harmonic punctuation, modulating with each puntucation; that's some fancy arranging; all the while, the rhythm section grooves like a slow, sexy salsa.
Then came the highlight of the evening CLARE'S writing for strings, his SUITE FOR CELLO AND STRINGS written when Clare was a teenager in Michigan. (you know the cold weather; i think all clare did was stay at home and do music.) THIS SUITE IS THE MOST MELANCHOLY PIECE I'VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE; IT WILL BRING TEARS TO YOUR EYES; IT'S LIKE WATCHING THE ASHES OF 9/11, HIROSHIMA, ALL THE WORST RESULTS OF MANKIND, ATROCITIES CLARE MANAGES TO EXPRESS WITH MUSIC. (A GREAT CELLO SOLO WORTHY OF THAT FAMOUS RUSSIAN CELLIST, I FORGOT HIS NAME, AND OF COURSE YO YO MA, BUT MA IS STILL TOO YOUNG FOR THIS PIECE. YOU HAVE TO SUFFER THE HOLOCAUST TO PLAY THIS PIECE. JUST LIKE SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SUFFER INDIGNITIES IN THIS COUNTRY TO PLAY THE BLUES. I'VE SUFFERED; I CAN PLAY THE BLUES.)
CLARE provides a glorious backdrop for first call symphony and studio CELLIST CECILIA TSAN and suddenly the sad piece turns to HOPE. and hope is what we need today, the economy, swine flu et al.
AGAIN CLARE IS ABLE TO ISOLATE EACH SECTION OF THE ORCHESTRA, WOODWINDS, BRASS, AND STRINGS, WRITE BEAUTIFULLY FOR EACH GROUP SEPARATELY AND COMBINE THEM, CREATING A TRULY BIG BAND JAZZ ORCHESTRA.
Ah, my favorite, "PENSATIVA", PENSIVE WOMAN. the harmonies as usual are exquisite, and the music brought down the house.
After a short break, the big band back with a groover (i reviewed this piece earlier, just scroll down at www.wenjaz.blogspot.com, it's the THAD JONES-MEL LEWIS TYPE GROOVER.)
CLARE FISCHER'S JAZZ CORPS featuring every brass, woodwind instrument ever made by man opened with a hip CHEROKEE. ( I reviewed the JAZZ CORPS CD at www.wenjaz.blogspot.com, just scroll down.) How can one man have this much imagination, genius and sense of humor? Fast bebop is the hardest form of music to play; CHEROKEE always separates the men from the boys, and this performance was not an exception. You just can't run scales on the changes. You must play ideas, and if you can do this at 280, you're a man and not a boy. Let's just say, few survived, but this arrangement features clare's hipness in using the heavier brass to accent and support the lighter brass and woodwinds.
"THE HERD MOVES ON" opens as you can imagine like a group of elephants looking for water; you know how they prod along for miles in search of water. this is much better than MANCINI'S ELEPHANT WALK. This is serious, serious music. Here Clare effectively utilizes each group of instruments separately, the tubas, french horns, mellophones, bugles, clarinets, flutes; Some space for an electric piano interlude. somehow the electric piano fits Clare's pieces. i think because a STEINWAY OR A BOSENDORFER is too ponderous, though beautiful. The bass clarinetist shows off for the evening, a beautiful instrument as played by the likes of a DAVID MURRAY. YOU DON'T OFTEN HEAR HEAVIER BRASS, TUBAS, SOUSAPHONES, CONTRA TUBAS PLAYING IN HARMONY. The music is very dense, great for a mystery or a spy movie or exploring the galaxy, suspenseful, then all of a sudden there is a sunrise with the clarinets, and you go through the day with Clare's writing, perfect for film. there are surprises and climaxes like at the end.
"FOUR BROTHERS IN FIVE.COM", the Woody Herman classic done in five part harmony, clarinet lead, swinging like hell, nice Glenn miller, Duke effect, Kendall Kay swinging the JAZZ CORPS; CARL SAUNDERS laying it all out again on rhythm changes as he has thousands of times; good old fashioned big band writing, a good chart for some good college or high school stage band to buy and win a competition.
MAN WHAT AN EVENING! I'M A LUCKY GUY! BUT YOU CAN BUY THIS MUSIC, LISTEN TO THE CDS AND BUY AND PERFORM THE ARRANGEMENTS. GO TO WWW.CLAREFISCHER.COM get on the emailing list like me, and maybe you'll be invited to the 90th surprise birthday party.
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