“I wouldn’t be me without Clare Fischer. (He) was a major influence on my harmonic concept. I was in awe of him.” The praise for keyboardist, composer, arranger Fischer stems from no less than jazz great Herbie Hancock. Fischer’s (1928-2012) influence has spanned the gamut of modern music. Nominated for 11 Grammies, Fischer arranged for the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Al Jarreau, Paul McCartney, and Michael Jackson. In 1985 he began a many-year collaboration with pop artist Prince, writing some 40 orchestral arrangements, including music for Prince’s movies Under the Cherry Moon, Graffiti Bridge, and Batman. Fischer is also known for his playing and composing Latin music. Pensativa and Morning have become Latin jazz standards; in 1981 won a Grammy for best Latin record.
A must for fans of Clare Fischer’s Latin side, Machaca is the second of his “Salsa Picante” period. All but one of the pieces are written by Clare. He describes Machaca as “food that combines different ingredients”, and with a bevy of Latino musicians, an admixture of Latin rhythms and melodies and European-influenced harmonies, it’s one delicious musical concoction. African Flutes mixes a piano tumbao (repeated vamp) with tribal chanting and Stravinsky-influenced chords. Then there is Gaviota (seagull) with its quasi bolero romanticism and Cuban folk rhythm base. Machaca offers up Latin-rock fusion with drummer Aaron Ballesteros and company supplying the groove, and Gentle Breeze, plays over a merengue rhythm as Fischer and Co. storm through with tempestuous solos. Machaca: a potpourri of Clare Fischer pieces with a tasty salsa flavor to savor.