R.I.P. – Clare Fischer, musician and long time Prince collaborator, Dies at 83


We were sad to hear that music legend Clare Fischer has passed.  According to Wikipedia, “On January 8, 2012, Fischer suffered a cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, following a minor surgery a few days before. His wife of 18 years, Donna, was at his side and performed CPR, which saved his life. He remained in ICU on life support, and died on January 26, 2012. He is survived by his wife; three children, Lee, Brent and Tahlia; and two stepchildren, Lisa and Bill Bachman.”

For those who do not know, Clare Fischer was an extremely important part of the 80’s sound that was so popular.  You may not know his face but your surely know his sound.  In particular, his work with Prince (especially during Under the Cherry Moon) and many of our favorites should be noted.    Wikipedia notes:  “Since 1985 Fischer wrote orchestral arrangements for pop artist Prince.  Some appeared on Prince’s albums and have been used for his movies Under the Cherry Moon (Fischer’s first screen credit), Graffiti Bridge and in Spike Lee’s Girl 6.  One of Fischer’s Prince arrangements was also used in a revised form for the movie Batman. Prince’s December 2005 single “Te Amo Corazon,” a mid-tempo Latin jazz track, featured string arrangements by Fischer.”

Here is a story that appeared in the LA Times concerning his death:

Clare Fischer, a Grammy-winning pianist, composer and arranger who crossed freely from jazz toLatin and pop music, working with Dizzy GillespieGeorge ShearingNatalie Cole and Joao Gilberto as well as Paul McCartneyPrinceSpike Lee and Michael Jackson, has died. He was 83.

Fischer died Thursday at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank of complications of aheart attack suffered two weeks ago, according to family spokeswoman Claris Dodge.

Although Fischer entered the professional music world through jazz, his expansive creative perspective quickly grew to embrace many other musical areas.

“I relate to everything,” he explained in a 1987 interview with The Times. “I’m not just jazz, Latin or classical. I really am a fusion of all of those, not today’s fusion, but my fusion.” He went on to describe his fascination with Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Bartok, as well as Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Lee Konitz, Tito Puente and boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis.

Regardless of the area in which he was working, Fischer’s arranging and composing always possessed a rich harmonic palette, one that attracted and influenced other musicians.

“Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept,” noted Herbie Hancock, describing Fischer’s arrangements for the 1950s vocal group the Hi-Lo’s as having a significant impact upon his own recording, “Speak Like a Child.”

Fischer’s arranging was especially valued by pop and rock artists for the lush, classical qualities of the textures he created, especially for string ensembles. Working closely with his son, Brent Fischer, also an arranger and conductor, he provided arrangements and orchestrations for Paul McCartney, Chaka KhanCarlos Santana, Rufus, Brandy, Prince and numerous others. His first film credit was the music for Prince’s “Under the Cherry Moon.”

In addition to his writing efforts, Fischer was a busy studio keyboardist, performing, composing or arranging for commercials, film and television scores, and more than 100 albums for other artists.

He also released more than 50 albums under his own name in a recording career that began in 1962 with the Pacific Records album “First Time Out.” His diverse ensembles included the Latin group SalsaPicante; the vocal ensemble 2 + 2; his Clarinet Choir; a big, 30-piece band called Clare Fischer’s Jazz Corps; solo piano performances; pairings with Donald Byrd, Gary Foster, Jerry Coker and others; and a duo with Fischer’s digital piano and the acoustic guitar of Helio Delmiro.

“After the Rain,” produced in 2001, was his first classical recording, a collection of his symphonic works.

He won two Grammy awards, in 1981 for “Clare Fischer and Salsa Picante Present 2+2” and in 1986 for “Freefall.”

Douglas Clare Fischer was born Oct. 22, 1928, in Durand, Mich., the third of four children. His first instruments were violin and piano. By the time he was in his teens, after his family had moved to Grand Rapids, he was composing and writing arrangements for big dance bands. His versatility as an instrumentalist grew to include cello, clarinet and saxophone during his high school years. In 1947, he entered Michigan State University, majoring in composition and theory, graduating in 1951 cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in music.

After serving in the U.S. Army, he returned to Michigan State, receiving a master’s in music in 1955.

Fischer’s professional career escalated in the late 1950s during his five-year association as pianist/arranger/conductor with the musically adventurous Hi-Lo’s. But it was his arrangements for Dizzy Gillespie’s 1960 album, “A Portrait of Duke Ellington,” that brought him the full attention of the jazz community. Albums for George Shearing, Cal Tjader, Bud Shank and Joe Pass followed. In the mid-’70s a reunion with Tjader also revived Fischer’s fascination with Latin music via his Salsa Picante group. His affection for Brazilian music in general, and bossa nova in particular, resulted in albums such as “So Danco Samba,” “Lembrancas” and “Symbiosis.”

In the ’80s, Fischer became an arranger and orchestrator of choice for many major pop artists.

In 1988, Fischer had a freeway encounter with another driver that climaxed in a physical confrontation at the side of the road. Fischer, 60 at the time, was pushed to the ground by the combined assault of the driver and his companion, suffering a hairline skull fracture and a concussion. He was in the hospital, in and out of consciousness for two weeks. It took nearly a year before he was able to return to music.

“If I discovered anything in that strange, 10-month period of recovery,” he said in a 1992 interview, “it’s that music is the one thing that makes me sane.”

He is survived by his wife, Donna; his children, Lee, Brent and Tahlia; two stepchildren, Lisa and Bill Bachman; three grandchildren; and a brother, Stewart.

Here are a few our our fave highlights:

Prince – Te Amo Corazon (with Clare Fischer orchestration)

From Under the Cherry Moon

Someday My Prince Will Come

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