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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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CLARE FISCHER BIG BAND
directed by Brent Fischer

Continuum

CLAVO CR201408

 

 

Cherokee

Jumping Jacks

Cotton Tail

New Thing

Passion

Sad About Nothing Blues

Mood Indigo

Eleanor Rigby

Blues Parisien

Son Of A Dad

I Loves You, Porgy

All Out

Ornithardy

Clare Fischer Big Band

No recording date or location [74:28]

The late Clare Fischerís musical legacy is advanced still further in this release directed by his son, Brent, who also takes original material and entrusts it to the Clare Fischer Big Band, some of whose members were part of original band over 45 years ago. Some of the best-known players in the current band are cited on the cover booklet; Bob Sheppard, Alex Budman, Carl Saunders, Ron Stout, Scott Whitfield and Andy Martin. But itís the combination of soloists, sectional work, themes and arrangements that makes the group and its records distinctive.

There are thirteen tracks with all arrangements being by one or other Ė or both Ė of the Fischers. Clare Fischerís arrangement of Cherokee for his 30-piece band is played here, though for reduced forces, now 18 in number. The jumping metres are wholly characteristic and the band plays highly evocatively with first-class trombone (Andy Martin) and alto (Alex Budman) solos. I only regret the presence of the gloopy electronic keyboard.Jumping Jacks is a colloquial easy swinger and catchy to boot, like a kind of off-kilter Blues Brothers back beat number. Revoicing Ben Websterís Cotton Tail solo proves useful Ė two tenors and baritone is the solution that Clare Fischer came up with - and he proves an admirable admirer of Ellington here. Brent turns up with New Thing, a kind of light soul, jazz-funk number. Passion was composed by Fischer Senior when he was just 16 and the current bandís recreation of the 1940s Big Band ethos does it proud Ė rich tones and lyrical.

Sad About Nothing Blues is another composition by Brent Fischer with lyrics written by Darlene Koldenhoven and sung by Scott Whitfield and Carl Saunders. I know that Clare Fischer preferred the electric piano for its greater sustain and for the fact that it doesnít go out of tune but on every outing (and there are seven altogether) Ė not least on Eleanor Rigby - it drives me up the wall; not Quinn Johnsonís fault as heís just obeying orders. Alan Steinberger has an easier time of it on a proper keyboard. Brent gets funky on Son of a Dad with strong solos including one from Rob Verdi on the contrabass sax Ė and that instrument would enrich any sax section. The recital ends with a classic Fischer statement on Ornithardy, a new arrangement recently found by Brent Fischer. Bob Sheppard takes the tenor solo and very finely.

A good salute, then, from son to father, with interesting new arrangements where appropriate and founding fathers on board to reprise their original work alongside young bloods. I appreciate why itís included but next time, and once that pesky electronica is ditched, Iíll be upping my metaphorical recommendation stars even higher.

Jonathan Woolf



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