Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Clare Fischer Orchestra - Extension (Pacific Jazz, 1963; International Phonograph, 2012)

Pianist and composer Clare Fischer had paid his dues working with a vocal group along with trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Donald Byrd before recording two trio albums for Pacific Jazz. Getting the chance to perform and compose for a large ensemble featuring his own compositions and arrangements, he produced an excellent big band LP, just as big bands were beginning to fade from the scene. The music has an instantly identifiable sound reminiscent of Pacific Jazz records of the period by the likes of Gerald Wilson, with swirling organ and piano supporting a large group of reeds and brass with short, sharp compositions and arrangements leading to crisp charts and pithy solos. The music cuts a wide swath, from the classically influenced “Igor” to the deeply rhythmic “Canto Africanto” which demonstrates Fischer's budding interest in Latin and African music. “Extension” is a two-part suite, beginning as a deeply felt slow blues before developing wings and taking flight in the second half. Fischer’s arrangements make for dynamic performances that are sure to appeal to aficionados of large group jazz. As usual the presentation by the International Phonograph label is immaculate with a beautifully remastered CD, digitally transferred directly from the 3 track master tapes, allowing the sound of the big band ensemble to be preserved and capturing the landscape of tones, textures, colors and shadings that Fischer made full use of. The CD is enclosed in a replica LP gatefold sleeve and includes extensive liner notes and session information, making for a  very classy package. Extension - amazon.com

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