Remembering Clare Fischer On Piano Jazz : A Blog Supreme The composer-arranger and jazz pianist, who worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Prince, Cal Tjader and Chaka Khan alike, has died at 83. Hear a conversation and performance with host Marian McPartland.
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Listen Now: Clare Fisher On 'Piano Jazz,' 2001

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Remembering Clare Fischer On Piano Jazz

Remembering Clare Fischer On Piano Jazz

Listen Now: Clare Fisher On 'Piano Jazz,' 2001

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/145990950/145999832" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Clare Fischer. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

Clare Fischer.

Courtesy of the artist

Composer, arranger and pianist Clare Fischer died Thursday, Jan. 26, his website has announced. He was 83. The L.A. Times reports that he died of complications from a heart attack suffered two weeks ago.

Fischer was a respected improvising pianist, but left his biggest mark behind the scenes as a composer, arranger and studio musician across idiom. "I'm not a pianist who writes — I'm a composer who plays," he said on a February 2001 episode of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, heard above. A few of his tunes, "Pensativa" and "Morning," have entered standard jazz repertoire.

His first big break came while touring as pianist/arranger for the Hi-Los, a popular vocal quartet of its time. He was soon commissioned to arrange for various jazz artists, including Dizzy Gillespie on A Portrait of Duke Ellington. Fischer was known for his love of Latin American music and European classical music alike; he led and played in Latin jazz bands (especially with vibraphonist Cal Tjader), and wrote for strings and symphony orchestras. He was also tapped to write backing arrangements for myriad pop stars, including Chaka Khan and Rufus, Paul McCartney, Joao Gilberto, Brandy, Carlos Santana and Prince, often in collaboration with Brent Fischer, his son and a fellow producer/arranger.

"Each decade, I find myself being interested in something else," Clare Fischer told McPartland. "So I pursue it."

In that time, Fischer released 51 albums as a bandleader or solo pianist, spanning ensembles of all sizes and styles. One of his last — Continuum, a collection of works for big band — was nominated for a Grammy in November.