This excellent album by the Clare Fischer Big Band was recorded in Los Angeles during 1968 with a collective personnel of :- Clare Fischer(piano, electric piano, alto sax, arranger); Gary Foster, Kim Richmond(alto sax); Loius Ciotti, Warne Marsh(tenor sax); Bill Perkins(baritone sax); John Lowe(bass sax); Conte Candoli, Stewart Fischer, Steve Huffsteter, Larry McGuire, Buddy Childers, John Audino(trumpets); Gil Falco, Charley Lopez, David Sanchez(trombones); Morris Repass(bass trombone); Chuck Domenico(bass) & Larry Bunker(drums). The eight memorable and varied tracks include four compositions by Clare Fischer, two by Stewart Fischer and one each from Lennie Tristano and Billy Strayhorn with fine solos from Bill Perkins, Warne Marsh, Gary Foster & Conte Candoli. The imaginative and creative music on 'Thesaurus' deserves rescuing from obscurity and should be heard by all big-band jazz enthusiasts.
If like me your knowledge of West Coast arrangers is limited to Marty Paich and Gerald Wilson, then Fisher’s the man to make up a thoroughly worthwhile trio. He has his own thing going on all over this album from 1968, a point emphasised by the fact that he’s responsible for most of the compositions too.
His harmonic sense is reflective of no voice other than his own too, but of course the music still wouldn’t amount to much if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s played by a band of seasoned pros who always know exactly what they’re doing, a point emphasised by both Bill Perkins in his baritone sax solo on “Calamus” and Warne Marsh’s tenor sax outing on “Miles Behind” which, as was that master’s wont, is as singular as a finger print.
Fischer plays the electric as well as the acoustic piano on this set, but not to the point where –in my opinion- the reactionaries have reason to carp. Besides which, the combination of the former with Perkins’s baritone on “Twas Only Yesterday” is persuasive enough to convert the doubters, especially as the piece is arguably the best example of Fischer’s arranging skills the album has to offer.
In a review of this album by Brian Morton that I read he makes the point that Fischer himself is believed by some to be the alto sax soloist on “In Memoriam (John F. and Robert F. Kennedy) but I’m not so sure that it isn’t Gary Foster, who’s work can also be heard on Lennie Tristano’s “Lennie’s Pennies”, a piece for which at least eighty five percent of Foster’s instrumental personality is ideally suited.
Something that Fischer shares with Paich is the ability to make the resources he has actually sound smaller than they are. This isn’t meant to be detrimental –in fact it’s intended as quite the opposite because the feat lends this set no small amount of its distinction, which is abundant enough to widen its appeal beyond the big band specialists. It’s far from expensive too, so any fan of, say, Warne Marsh, of whom there’d be a whole lot more in a radically better world, can buy with confidence.
I can only agree with the previous reviewer - this is a stunning recording. I have been lucky enough to buy a mint copy on vinyl and it's barely been off my turntable since it arrived. However if you don't have a turntable, for little more than a fiver you can have a new CD - you won't regret all the expense!
PS...You don't have a turntable? Well it's time you did, as more and more jazz recordings are becoming available both on used and new vinyl.