Clare Fischer: Extension (1963) - JazzWax

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June 05, 2012


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Bill Kirchner

As one who considers Fischer, Gil Evans, Gary McFarland, and Eddie Sauter all as major influences on my own writing, I can tell you that Clare's harmonic palette is absolutely unique. Once you're familiar with it, it's instantly recognizable as his and his alone.

However, one thing that all four of these giants had was the influence of Duke Ellington, both harmonically and in terms of writing for the jazz orchestra as a collection of individual voices.

Warren Jarrold

A grand artist, at home in nearly any genre. Fischer's interpretation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's CORCOVADO - a journey into the darkness re-titled CORCOVADO FUNEBRE - still is one of the most unique and haunting adaptations of the Sound of Brazil.

Larry Kart

By many accounts, Fischer could be very full of himself, even abrasive, and the passages quoted from him above bear this out. I particularly like ""I have always written music on my own terms, not bowing to pressure from producers to join in the latest stylistic fads or use the hottest musicians of the day" (this from a man who wrote a good deal for Prince) and "I recognized the I recognized the genius of people such as Jerry Coker , Don Shelton, Gary Foster and many others long before the record industry really started paying attention to them because I have the ears to do so" (but when, if ever, did the record industry really start paying attention to them?) BTW, speaking of the Fischer-Prince connection, a onetime West Coast-based player of much talent who knew Fischer and his volatile temperament quite well has said that the main reason Fischer and Prince managed to get along is that they never met.

Bill Kirchner

What Larry says is true: the stories about Fischer's Type A personality are many. But if he was full of himself, he was at the same time capable of delivering the goods. He was a brilliant player, and a composer/arranger who could write sensationally in just about any setting: big band, strings, small groups, Latin-jazz with voices, woodwind choirs, etc.

I met him only once. In 2001, he was finishing a residency in the Graz Conservatory in Austria, and I was slated to follow him. So my wife and I heard his solo-piano concert on the last night of his stay. He played for 2 & 1/2 hours nonstop--beautifully. After the concert, he and I and our wives had dinner together, and he was thoroughly engaging.

So while Clare may have been his own worst enemy, he was not without his charms, and without a doubt he was one of the most spectacular musicians jazz has ever known.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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