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Clare Fischer Orchestra: Extension

Clare Fischer’s 1963 masterwork makes its belated CD debut mere months after the composer-pianist’s death in January. The reissue makes for an eloquent epitaph, a lovely statement of impressionistic West Coast modernism. In Fischer’s arrangements can be found the reflective surfaces, cool hues and bold angles of the era’s Pacific coast architecture, embodied in burbling brass, hovering flutes and hip, finger-snapping swing.

The album’s eight pieces serve far more as a showcase of the leader’s vivid compositional voice than as a platform for blustery big-band solo turns, though tenorman Jerry Coker is granted ample space to flex his reedy, pliant tone. Tunes like the opener, “Ornithardy,” propelled by Fischer’s percolating organ, welcome the usual descriptors applied to left-coast jazz-breezy this certainly is, sunny as well-but without the implied triteness of clock-punching Burbank studio bands.

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