Clare Fischer Luncheon – April 22, 2009

ASMAC April Special Guests: Father and Son, Clare Fischer and Brent Fischer

By Jeannie Pool

The April luncheon of the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers featured Clare Fischer and Brent Fischer. Having celebrated his 80th birthday last fall, Clare Fischer let his son to speak for both us them, but chimed in when he felt it necessary to offer additional details.

Born on October 22, 1928 in Durand, Michigan, Clare Fischer is an uncommonly versatile musician, a master with many muses. Trained in the classics, inspired by jazz artists, healed by the rhythms of Latin and Brazilian music, he is a veteran studio musician and a composer.  Fischer began his studies in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at South High School with director of music, Glenn Litton. After receiving his master’s degree in composition from Michigan State University, where he studied with Dr. H. Owen Reed, he traveled extensively with “The Hi-Lo’s” as pianist-conductor for 5 years. About the same time, his musical ascension began with his critically acclaimed arrangements for Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Portrait of Duke Ellington.”

Since beginning his professional career, Fischer has recorded over 45 albums as leader and has arranged, composed and/or played on another 100 plus albums for other recording artists. His discography reads like a “Who’s Who” of the recording industry. Recent releases include “Clare Fischer’s Jazz Corps,” a big band album made up of 20 brass, 6 woodwinds plus rhythm; and “Symbiosis,” recorded with Hélio Delmiro on unamplified Brazilian guitar and Clare on digital piano. In January 2001 Fischer produced his first classical CD, “After the Rain,” made up entirely of his own symphonic works.

“I relate to everything,” Clare explains. “I’m not just jazz, Latin, or classical. I really am a fusion of all of those, not today’s fusion, but my fusion.”

In the last few years Clare has appeared in Paris, Switzerland, Croatia, Finland, Norway, Germany with the WDR Big Band, Holland with the Metropole Orchestra, Austria in Graz and at the Vienna Konzerthaus and in Mexico City at the Ollin Yolítzli Concert Hall in a concert commemorating the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim on the anniversary of his death in December, 1996.  In 1998 he also performed at the Choro Festival with Hélio Delmiro in Sáo Paulo, Brazil and returned for a three city-tour in July, 2000.

As Clare’s son, music was Brent’s first language. Since age 5, he has mastered drums, bass, keyboards, chapman stick, marimba, vibes and finally ended up with a degree in symphonic percussion from California State University Northridge.  He has worked professionally in the industry since age 16, in many roles, performing/recording worldwide with groups from more than 20 different countries as a clinician, producer, arranger and composer. .  He has worked professionally with artists such as Paul McCartney, Prince, Michael Jackson, Robert Palmer, Toni Braxton, Dianne Reeves, Poncho Sanchez, George Duke, Joao Gilberto and Carlos Santana.

Brent showed photographs from their lives, told some anecdotes, and played some recorded musical examples. Clare had the last word when he played several selections on the piano, enthusiastically applauded by the ASMAC audience.  It is rare in the music business to see a father and son working together so closely in composition, arranging, orchestrating, and producing. As one can imagine, such a relationship may not be without complications, but it was pretty clear from their presentation that mutual love, respect, and formidable musical talents have carried them a long way in their collaborative efforts.