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In grade school he started his general music study with violin and piano as his first instruments. At the age of 7 he began to pick out four-part harmony on the piano. After two years of piano lessons the family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan , where Fischer began composing classical music and making instrumental arrangements for dance bands.
At South High School he took up cello, clarinet, and saxophone. His high school instructor, Glenn Litton, took an interest in the boy and, because the family could not afford it, gave him free lessons in music theory, harmony, and orchestration. Fischer returned the favor by orchestrating and copying music for him. Whenever the concert band needed an instrument, Fischer would be supplied with it and the fingering chart to play it in concert. This gave him a personal training in orchestration that was invaluable.
Fischer started his own band at 15, for which he wrote all the arrangements. Owen Reed. During his teens there were no funds for him to study piano, so he was mostly self-taught. Therefore his major instrument in college was cello, and piano a minor. Later he changed his major to piano and minor in clarinet. Through his friends he became interested in the Spanish language and took it as a minor on his Masters Degree.
The average person has about a fifteen percent understanding of a foreign language. He knows what language it is and is familiar with one or two words. With music it is not different. Most people only hear the lyrics to a song or feel the beat. I have always made music for good listeners, with 65 to eighty percent of musical understanding. That is why with my vocal sextet all pieces are sung in the original language, whether that is German, Spanish or Japanese.
The U. Army drafted him the next year, sending him to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri , for basic training. There he played alto saxophone in the band and ended his service as an arranger at the U. After the army, Fischer returned to Michigan State.
In he received his Master of Music. Over the next five years, Fischer recorded several albums with the group, serving as pianist and, on occasion, arranger. Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept And, of course, he was a wonderful pianist, too. But it was those vocal harmonies that were the first thing I heard. I was in awe of him. He started in a charanga group with Modesto Duran as leader and played with many different groups.
Although it would be twenty-five years before the album was finally released, September Afternoon paid immediate dividends when Byrd played a copy for Dizzy Gillespie.
In turn, Gillespie hired Fischer to write arrangements for a small ensemble featuring brass and woodwinds for his own album, A Portrait of Duke Ellington , which was well received. These early records are meticulous studies in jazz, bossa nova and mambo , with the harmonic depth of Bach , Shostakovich and Stravinsky. They were well received by the critics, but commercially not very successful.
Fischer presented himself both as pianist and arranger and composed his most famous pieces, " Pensativa " and "Morning". His many talents, however, proved a disadvantage. Whenever I played with a trio, people said: "Fischer owes a lot to Bill Evans. My big musical example at the time was Lee Konitz. And when I orchestrated a record it was Gil Evans , the arranger, that I copied.
I called this my "Evans Brothers syndrome". In the sixties Fischer began playing the organ again, having studied the pipe organ at sixteen. Salsa Picante years[ edit ] In , after ten years of studiowork and artistically successful yet obscure solo records, Fischer found a new direction. He started his own group with Latino musicians, "Salsa Picante", which showed great eclecticism in musical styles. Crazy Bird was with the instrumental group and Alone Together , a solo piano album recorded on a Hamburg Steinway.
People feel that they make a song sound almost classical. More recently, as a jazz educator, Fischer performed solo piano concerts and conducted clinics and master classes in universities and music conservatories in Europe and throughout the United States.
Like me he was 68, and I am still alive. Only it was not a normal version, there were these harmonic countermelodies in the bass. When I awoke I wrote down what I had dreamed.
His wife of 18 years, Donna, was at his side and performed CPR.