Well this was hard to research. Okay, not really hard, but confusing at first. The band itself isn't findable on wiki (my oh-so reliable source), but eventually I got just "Clare Fischer" to show up, and made the connection after some searching.
Douglas Clare Fischer actually passed away two years ago, but seems to have offered the world a huge amount of music. His 1960s recordings are what he's best known for, and was an influence for the likes of Herbie Hancock. This album marks Dr. Fischer's first of two posthumous Grammy wins.
We kick things off here with "San Francisco P.M." featuring Poncho Sanchez, Alex Acuna, Luis Conte, Steve Khan, & Brent Fischer. Anyone else want to salsa the night away here? This is really crisp for such a big band (or, I'm assuming big, given the name), with no instrument out of place whatsoever. And all of those featured folks, I'm guessing here, are guests or at least soloists on the work. There are some really incredible jamming moments throughout this thing!
"Funquiado" features Alex Acuna, and is definitely just that - funky beyond belief. I never would have expected this from a Latin song, but maybe that's where the jazz element comes into play. I've never been a big fan of trumpets, mostly because their sound kind of has this way of searing through my head way too loudly. Not to say that this is bad by any means, it's just tough on my personal ears and spring-allergy-enduced headache. Gotta love those professional bongos though! This second half of the song - the keys solo? It's just not doing it though. Sure, in the last minute, it all gets brought back together… but that solo was excruciatingly long.
I don't know how well put together I can say "Canonic Passacaglia, Blues and Vamp 'til Ready" featuring Peter Erskine and Carl Saunders is. It doesn't have that spark the first number did, but doesn't even feel like it's complete. This feels like one big jam session which… I mean, I get it, that's the point more or less. But it's hard to grasp onto a whole song like that on an album. Live, in person? Sure, that's fun. Your toes are tapping. But it's just not made to enjoy out of these speakers.
"Machaca" (featuring Brunch Fischer & Don Shelton) is back to where this album should be. Still jam-esq, but the band's got a purpose in what they're playing. And the call and response between instrument and full section is really well done. Gotta say, the keys are what actually take me out of it a little, but I think the rest makes up. Even if parts sound like something straight out of an old-school cartoon, or maybe "The Brady Bunch."
This makes for some nice background music, of course. "Rainforest," featuring Brent Fischer and Andy Martin, is largely dominated by a mute trumpet, possibly a trombone (clearly, all the more reason to see this live!) and a saxophone, each of which play lovely lower horned parts throughout the entire number. By the way, in case you were wondering, there's only one track on this whole album under 5 minutes, and that's the final remixed one. Everything else is appropriately very, very long.
"Guarabe" (featuring Alex Acuna and… you guessed it, Brent Fischer) starts and is based on this electronic keys sound that just feels like it was jacked out of Mario. On top of that, there's a whole bunch of real loud, super brassy horns. Oh, wait, there's a woodwind. Joy!! It gets to be a little much on the ears, can't lie there, but keep busy enough and you almost don't notice.
I enjoy songs that I can kind of set and forget, and "The Quiet Side" (featuring Alex Acuna & Brent Fischer) is most definitely one of those. It's easy going right from the start, and not obtrusive to the though patterns of a 26 year old. That said, it's not something that remotely got me dancing around or even smiling throughout. It's not dark, but it's not light. There's just nothing here that stands out particularly in any way, though they're utilizing a nice call and response against that's delightful musically.
"Pavillion" is much more enjoyable, and has me downright dancing in my seat. The structure is phenomenal, with clear choruses of music separating out verses where players are free to take on their own bits without causing a ruckus amongst the whole music. I like this a lot, even at ten minutes long, as the band just keeps things interesting. Okay, okay, mine this electronic piano solo smack in the middle of everything, but I get where it's coming from and why it's so prevalent in the album. Featured on this track are Andy Martin, Don Shelton, & Carl Saunders, each of whom I'm guessing takes on their own solo parts, and seem to do it in a really professional yet fun way.
Very strange thing just happened with my Spotify before the last song; everything stopped after a commercial. Not cool, program. We still have one more, "Vamp 'til Ready (Remix)" (featuring Alan Pasqua & Peter Erskine. Now, don't expect any heavy back beat or scratching - this isn't your typical remix. My guess is that someone in a studio took it and re-did things just a little to make a shorter, more radio-friendly version, and it's just legitimately "re-mixed." Well, maybe the keys sound different - more electric - in this. But the song remains a good blend of instruments taking it to the heights.
Added to My Playlist:
- "San Francisco P.M."
This was a first for me for sure. I can't say I remember ever sitting through an entire Latin Jazz album before. But it's kind of cool; definitely different. There was some funk involved for sure, and jazz always brings a sweet element to any music. If nothing else, we got transported to an older island resort club to dance the night away to something just a little spicy.