Roseanna Vitro: Clarity: Music of Clare Fischer

Herbie Hancock once declared, “I wouldn’t be me without Clare Fischer.” Indeed, the esteemed composer, keyboardist, arranger and bandleader, a true harmonic polyglot, who died in 2012 at the age of 83, influenced a remarkable spectrum of performers, starting with the Hi-Los and Gil Evans and concluding with Michael Jackson and Prince. Though Fischer loved working with voices and fronted his own Singers, never before has a solo vocalist paid him album-length tribute.

A woman who takes salutes very seriously-her discography also includes nods to Randy Newman, Bill Evans and Ray Charles-Roseanna Vitro spent nearly two years developing these 10 magnificently thoughtful tracks, shaping her own lyrics for six of the selections. Since it would be nearly impossible to embrace the full breadth of Fischer’s musical accomplishments, Vitro focuses on two of his greatest passions: bossa novas and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Backed by a standout quintet featuring violinist Sara Caswell, Vitro opens with the glorious “Morning,” first presented on 1981’s dazzling Clare Fischer and Salsa Picante Present 2 + 2. Fischer’s “Love’s Walk” is transformed into the promise-filled “Love’s Path,” his “The Duke” is reimagined as the sizzling “Swingin’ With the Duke,” and “Sleep My Child,” written by Fischer in the mid-’60s (as “Sleep Sweet Child”) for his newborn son Brent, becomes the gently mysterious “Sleep My Child.” Brent makes a guest appearance on vibes on the urgent “Take Your Breath and Sing,” but the album’s centerpiece is Fischer’s classic “Pensativa,” explored by Vitro with sable stealth.