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OceanlinerNotes Artist Interviews
OL:
We'd like to Welcome the sensational and multi-talented Producer Arranger Musician & Composer...Brent Fischer,
to our OL Weekly Series during this Special Holiday Season!
There's no better way to celebrate the gift of music, than with our Special Guest Artist this week:
Producer Arranger Composer,
Brent Fischer...

OL:
With Mr. Fischer's celebrated gift of
 orchestrations, arrangements, and just the pure sounds of his music, both as a Musician and Producer for so many of the music world's brightest Stars today!...It is said, that the best Producers in the Music Business, know no musical boundaries...and Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer personifies these many accomplishments impressively throughout his magical Career, with ease and fortitude, being in celebrated demand!
Producer Brent Fischer's
stellar music credits extends on over 30 million CD's for Pop, R&B and Jazz Royalty...working with the best of the best...

OL:
from Usher to Al Jarreau, to Prince,
to Toni Braxton, to performing his orchestration magic on
Michael Jackson's, 'This is it'
and in no way, does it stop there,
 as OL will spend this entire week with Brent, talking about his exciting Career and new projects to come! With that said, we here at OL would like to say...Welcome Brent, and thank you for giving us and all of the
OL Site Visitors,
for what will be a 7-part Interview on the Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, for the entire week
& some bonus Pre-Holiday
moments! We look forward to
 covering the many highlights of your
 Career as a Producer Arranger Musician & Composer. On behalf of all of our
OL Viewers,
once again, thank you and
welcome, Brent.  Happy Holidays!

Brent Fischer:
Cheers! I'm honored to be part of this great series. Love those beautiful sounds coming from your label.

OL:
Thank you very much, Brent... We have to say this first, that it's such an honor to have You here on OL, Brent! We know that You come from such a rich and yes, royal musical history, yourself. You were pretty much born into this big, beautiful world we call 'music', with the surrounding presence of having your Dad, the great American Conductor Arranger Composer, Dr. Clare Fischer,
as a supporting and nurturing guide. Nothing but the best of inspiration. What an amazing beginning, Brent, tell us of how your Dad first introduced You to music?

Brent Fischer:
It happened before I was born.  My mother always said that, when she was pregnant with me, she would sit by the piano while my father would play.  Some of my earliest childhood memories are of lying under the piano with our dog Bachi... (the one who his famous song is named after) listening to my dad writing or practicing.  In that sense, there really was no formal introduction.
 His music was just always there.
He wrote a song for me when I was around 2, titled "Sleep Sweet Child" (they always had trouble getting me to sleep)--that's now available at www.clarefischer.com on the CD
 "Introspectivo."
What I've always loved about the song over the decades is that
I could enjoy it intuitively as an
infant but also came to admire the
 intricacies of its structure as I became mature enough to analyze it in detail. 
Many of the songs on
"Introspectivo"
are those that
I heard him play at home through the years and so wanted to share that experience
with the world.

OL
:
From the young age of five, You started playing many instruments... the Drums, Bass, Keyboards, Chapman Stick, Marimba, and Vibes. Wonderfully, this comes as no surprise to us, Brent... as  You were growing up, in the world of Professional Musicians, through your Dad. What was the instrument that You naturally took to first, and what would be your favorite or main instrument to play now, on sessions?

Brent Fischer:
My dad started taking me to sessions when
I was about 4.  Even before that, I would assemble boxes of tinker toys in a row and beat on them with the sticks I found inside.  Needless to say, I gravitated towards drums first and my father encouraged me every step of the way.  I did also "tinker" around on his piano, but he got me a drumset when I was 5 or 6. For a couple years before the Porcaro brothers formed the group Toto, we'd all trade lessons with our Jazz legend
fathers: I would study drums with
Joe Porcaro,
and Steve Porcaro would study with my dad. Shortly after that I became interested in Electric Bass, much to Joe's chagrin--he wanted me to turn pro on drums.  As my musical awareness
expanded, though, harmony (especially my father's) became my new focus and Bass allowed me to be a part of that and still concentrate on what all the other players were doing.  Drummers and Bassists have an incredible opportunity to study the music as they play, because generally speaking,
less is required of them than
a pianist or horn section player. 
I developed my ears and became
an avid transcriber.
I did my first pro session on Bass at age 16 and that is still my main instrument today,
but I considered myself a drummer at that point, so I took Symphonic Percussion as my major in College.  Later, one of my theory teachers tried to get me to change my major to composition.
I declined because I knew by then that I wanted to carry on the unique harmonic and orchestrational traditions first
 conceived by my Father; how they were teaching at the University.  Everything had to re-invent the wheel. It wasn't considered serious, or modern unless it was atonal, or at least aleatoric.
I enjoyed writing in those styles but it wasn't my main interest.  I feel, like my father, that music should build on all the history that preceded us.

OL:
As we travel from the beginning stages in this OL Interview segment, who was the first Artist working with Your Dad, that also had a musical influence on You as a young Musician?

Brent Fischer:
It's hard to single out one. Gary Foster was always around and helped open my ears to musicality of interpretation.
Poncho Sanchez
and Cal Tjader taught me about playing with heart, my cousin
Andre Fischer
of Rufus showed me how to groove and play in the pocket. Later I learned through working for Prince how one can keep changing his sound while the music is still recognizable as coming from him. When I was learning Bass, the instrument was just starting to be recognized for its versatility. Guys like Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke and Chris Squire were great to listen to but one stood out to me: Jeff Berlin.
  His melodicity and harmonic variety
still amazes me, today.
 I was so floored by what I heard as a young man that I asked my dad to get me a lesson with Jeff when he moved to L.A.
After that, they ended up working
 together and appearing on each others' albums.  In this and other respects, I'm proud to have actually influenced my
 father and some of his musical directions.

OL:
You earned a Bachelor of Music Degree In Symphonic Percussion from
 California State University,
Northridge. while  working professionally in the music industry since age 16. Having the best of both worlds at such a young age, must have been like a natural progression for You.
Very impressive.
What was your first gig on the College scene?

Brent Fischer:
I finished High School early and went to College at 17.  By then, I had become the regular Bassist in
The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Group
and recorded one album with him.  The second was recorded during my first semester at CSUN. There also was a jazz club on campus (how convenient!) that we performed at regularly.
Around this same time, I also started
assisting my Dad.  I transcribed tapes sent to him for string arrangements (most artists did not have any written charts); filled him in on the different styles of the pop/rock/R&B artists we were working with and acted as a consultant while he arranged.
By the time I finished College, my
 education plus my experiences playing
Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian music opened up a whole world, literally, of ethnic music that I started working in.  I learned how to unlearn what I had been taught as an American musician to be able to groove with people from other countries and not sound like a foreigner to them.
It's the same when one masters speaking another language without accent--it's not about fluency, it's about acculturation.

OL:
Tell us about majoring in Symphonic
Percussion and how
You came to focus in on that specialization?

Brent Fischer:
Seems kind of crazy to pay for my College education in Percussion by gigging on Bass, but that's what I did.  As a Drummer in High School, I played Percussion in the orchestra and so continued on that path at College. That meant learning all mallet instruments--Marimba, Xylophone,
 Vibraphone, Etc.--besides playing
 Timpani and Hand Percussion.
I had a great time playing mallets.
 Besides the standard 2 and 4 mallet grips
I actually invented my own 6 mallet grip,
3 in each hand, to play the kind of 5 and 6 part harmony I was picking up from my Dad.
He even utilized this on his album
"Crazy Bird."
I have done some work as a percussionist, most recently with
Teena Marie,
but also Kirk Franklin,
Toni Braxton, Natalie Cole
and others. 
I will do some mallet playing on the next
Dr. Clare Fischer CD,
which I am producing right now.
 But as I gradually shifted through my life from player to contractor to writer and spent more time doing music consulting
for artists and companies like www.famewizard.com
Percussion has become less of a focus for me. I still enjoy it thoroughly though.

OL:
As a Producer now, working with such diverse musical styles and Artists, we're always curious about the actual sound or vibe,
that started it all for someone of your vast musical palette. Brent, tell us about the style of music that you were first drawn to...
and who were some of your favorite Artists that you began to listen to?

Brent Fischer:
Besides always hearing my father's music,
I started out like most kids in the seventies listening to Rock: The Stones, Elton John, David Bowie and Van Halen. As I grew, my tastes became more esoteric and I discovered a type of music that, unfortunately, is not even recognized as a category anymore: Progressive Rock Groups like Yes, Gentle Giant, Jeff Beck and Bill Bruford had a profound effect on my musical awakening and actually helped pave the way for my eventual ability to comprehend the depth and significance of my
father's writing.  As I would discover new groups, I would show them to him,
and he enjoyed many of them.
Once I got busy in the music industry, however, it got to the point for a while where I only had time to listen to the music for the project I was working on at the time. 
That actually helped because it made my father's style my primary influence and kept that influence from becoming diluted. 
Now I can enjoy music from around the world and let myself be influenced by it if I choose, knowing that I have a solid foundation from my dad to guide my focus. I can honestly say now that musical quality matters more than musical genre.  That's why I like working
in so many of them.

OL:
And your first Producing Gig after College?

Brent Fischer:
My focus has been on writing, so producing was an outgrowth of that.  As an arranger, every time I step in front of an
orchestra to conduct, I'm also naturally producing, even if there's already a producer there.  What started out as a
 gradual process going from assisting my dad on projects to co-writing with him or ghost writing for him also led to my
assuming the role of producer, even though it may not always be credited that way.
Taking that into account, he likes to arrange from the ground up without the back and forth that goes on working with another writer, so he suggested I arrange that one because I don't mind collaborating.
 How, one may ask; can I co-write with my dad if he doesn't like to work with other writers?  He is completely comfortable with my choices because they are so similar
to his own.
On projects where there was a tight deadline, we'd even work around the clock in shifts;
he during the day and I at night.  It didn't matter if one of us put down the pencil
mid-phrase; we knew the other one would pick right up; finish it and move on in a
like manner.

OL:
Now working behind the scenes, Brent,
 as a Music Producer, has been familiar territory for You, for quite a while now... sometimes wearing many hats...
It must be quite a heady,
but as equally, an exciting thrill to have worked with such Artist greats as...
Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, Brandy,
Poncho Sanchez, George Duke,
 Joao Gilberto,
and Carlos Santana...
& the list continues through this Interview! Tell us about working on
Beatle great Paul McCartney's
record and how that came about?

Brent Fischer:
That was in the 80's for the "Flowers in the Dirt" album.  Unfortunately, I did not get to meet him because I was on tour in Europe.  Somehow they had heard of us; requested strings, and I then transcribed the music and assisted dad with the arrangements, but had to fly out before the actual session.
I did, however, speak with Linda McCartney on the phone once when they called to tell us how much they loved how everything turned out.  Dad and I just recently did an interview with a journalist who is writing a book about Paul McCartney's work with
orchestral arrangers.

OL:
Brent, although we come to a close on this segment,we can't wait to get into some of your favorite session moments,
 having just worked on a project with Mr. R&B Jazz Cool Man himself, Al Jarreau,
one of OL's favorite Artists on the planet...
So for now,tell us in general, about the two lucky worlds that You're in... of being able to have the endless opportunities that you have so rightfully earned in your  Career...
on both Producing and Performing on Various Artists tracks and on your own musical works?

Brent Fischer:
Its been very gratifying, but sometimes more difficult than one might imagine: most of the offspring of famous musicians don't have a great track record.  We lost a gig recently writing for Dave Matthews because my father told the producer's assistant, who had called to ask him for strings, that I would be writing also. They wanted the arrangements done more quickly than my father could comfortably write alone.
 We figured, with all the credits I have under my belt, they would feel comfortable with us co-writing.  I guess they just saw all the negatives that can go along with nepotism and backed out.  I don't dwell on situations like this, however, because there have been so many other great gigs to replace it.
In general, I've had a wonderful time working with the best in the industry, including all those fantastic, but less well known artists.  Amongst the mediocrity there is
quality out there.

OL:
What a great professional spirit You have!
We admire that... & Thank you very much Brent, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the OL Viewers,
in concluding this
OL
Interview 1 of 7 segment?

Brent Fischer:
In my experience, one of the duties of any good producer--and that includes all independent artists who self manage--
is to keep the business side in mind.
 Going with your heart doesn't have to mean you can't keep control of the budget.  Thinking about delivering what your core audience wants can still be done with musical integrity. People depend on art just as much as they depend on food and water, so it should be taken seriously,while at the
same time, providing improved quality of life for the creator as well as the listener.

OL:
Well said...
We look forward to Part 2 of this 7 part
 Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series,
as we highlight some of Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer's 'Sounds to the Stars' moments...
from Toni Braxton to Al Jarreau
& more!
And thank you All...for visiting OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series!
Join Us again, on Segment 2 of 7 of
this Interview!


OL:
Welcome Back to celebrated
Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer!
We're happy to be here again with You at OL, this being Part 2 of our 7 day Interview for OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series,
as we highlight in this segment;
some of  your Sounds to the Stars' moments!

OL:
Let's Go Crazy!...for a moment, Brent & go back in time to the 2004 Grammy Show, where you played in the great Stage Band, backing up  the one and only Prince and Beyonce Duet Performance! What a show-stopping moment & great performance.
We actually have our collection of this still on VHS.... Tell us about that special night on working with these two great Artists, and the rehearsals that led up to the Grammy Show?

Brent Fischer:
OK, so I'm getting ready to leave for a 2 week vacation to
 New Zealand
when I get a call from Prince's PA that they're sending us a tune to arrange for the show.
 So I re-book my flight to come home a week early and start listening to the CD they sent, only to realize that it's some sort of
 greatest hits medley.  Nobody told me this was how they were planning on starting the telecast, or that Beyonce would also be there--it was only Prince's voice on the rough mix they sent. 
Normally over the years, when Prince sends us something, all communication goes through his PA and we are left completely alone to plan and execute all steps, including me being responsible for budget, hiring the orchestra, booking the studio, etc., and coordinating with copyists, and engineers--that's besides preparing the music.
This time we actually had a short phone conference with Prince to iron out transitions from song to song in the medley and ascertain that, yes, his band would be performing exactly the same, bar for bar, as on the recording they had sent us of their rehearsal.  That way we could be sure that the orchestra would align properly with Prince's band on stage.  It took nearly the entire week of my
 New Zealand trip to negotiate
 orchestra size (we wanted a big orchestra,
but they would only agree to 15 strings plus me on  percussion, none of the winds or brass we asked for), budget and other details with the tv producers. I would pull in somewhere and make a phone call, or send an email to take care of business, then go back to my trip.  Once all details were agreed upon, we could actually begin the writing. The show was the easiest part.  I went to Staples Center in downtown L.A. the day before the telecast and did a complete rehearsal and soundcheck in under 30 minutes--when you're working with true professionals that's all it takes. This is also when I found out Beyonce was there too.  I got to meet Prince for the first time after having worked for him for almost 20 years.  I thanked him for all the great projects (even though many of them
remain unreleased), and we went over last minute details. He declined to meet my father, even though he was just offstage, not wanting to jinx the relationship that had worked so perfectly so long.  But he did offer thanks to both of us for giving him "those strings that the Fischers are famous for!" 
The day of the show I did a dress rehearsal (that took 5 minutes, literally), then I went and rehearsed on Bass with a Persian (one of many ethnic styles I know) music group for an upcoming concert in Dubai, went back to Staples for the telecast, then went home and packed to fly out for Dubai the next day.
 All in all, a busy but fun packed weekend.

OL:
You also played the percussion & tympani instruments on Prince's "Parade" Album, as well did your Dad, Dr. Clare Fischer, Produce Orchestral Arrangements for Prince's CD?

Brent Fischer:
Yes, (technically that was before CD's, so we were still making records back then) and all that music as well as the song
"Alexa de Paris"
ended up on Prince's
"Under the Cherry Moon"
movie.
 I also played on "Crystal Ball", which was arranged, and recorded in 1986 and finally released in 1999 (!) as well as many others.  Dad and I had a lot of fun using all the colors of the Percussion realm in addition to woodwinds, brass, strings and even using voice as an instrumental effect mixed in with a large orchestra on a tune called
"Violet Blue."
Working with my Dad
for Prince and others when I was young,
 is how I gained my
orchestrational experience.

OL:
This leads us to our next question...
on how closely woven You and your Dad's working together allowed space for Ghost-writing for your Dad, Dr. Clare Fischer.
Tell us Brent, about some of his projects that You worked on, and about the ghost-writing process in general?

Brent Fischer:
There has been a gradual transition over the 30 year period that my Father and I have worked together.  I started as his assistant in 1980 and as time passed and he saw my abilities develop he gave me more to do.
My father is a strict disciplinarian and brought me up to abide by his motto: "There is only one level and that's professional."
 I had to work hard to prove myself
constantly, whether on Bass, Percussion,
 or as a writer, contractor,
session coordinator and producer.

Brent Fischer:
Now he has passed on the "Family Business" to me and I structure things so he can be as much, or as little involved as he wishes.
 My writing studio is still at his house and we still talk about all the subtle peculiarities of each instrument as I apply all my hard earned experience to carrying on the Fischer
tradition.  I'm also chief archivist of his music library, having all 65 years of his output at
my fingertips to use for inspiration.

Brent Fischer:
Back in the 90's, when I started getting my own work, he would  recommend me to people for jobs he wasn't interested in,
but would be a good experience for me.
One thing he always refused to do was have someone tell him what to write--
he expected them to give him
general instructions like "make the bridge grand," or "leave the orchestra out of the first verse" and then allow him to create unfettered.  Since I enjoyed collaborating with others, arrangement projects that required this were some of the first jobs he gave to me, always with the blessing of the artist or producer. Later, when things would get really busy, he would have me write sections, or whole arrangements on his behalf so we could make the deadline.
We noticed over the years that sometimes, even though his recommending me to artists always came with the guarantee that he would personally oversee everything I did
and promise to write  another arrangement himself for free if they were not happy with mine, the word of Clare Fischer was not enough to convince them.  Again, there was that fear that I wouldn't cut it because of all the others in the past who had used nepotism improperly. 
That's when he came to the decision that,
when he accepted a job, he would wait until after they heard the arrangement and gave their unbiased opinion that they loved it.  Then he would tell them that I had
written a part, or all of it.  In some cases this was reflected on the credits. Some specific examples: 1/ when writing a particularly involved arrangement once for  Hollister,
Dad asked me to contribute ideas that he could incorporate into his writing based on my intimate knowledge of the transcription--
this was uncredited.  2/ Kirk Franklin asked Dad to write some arrangements and then me to write one based on ideas from the
 keyboardist in his band.  Because of the quick turn around, I ended up writing about 90% of the material on a couple of arrangements and co-writing one titled "Hero" side by side in one day with dad instead of our usual
co-writing method of one continuing where the other left off.  There was even one part that Kirk all of a sudden asked me to compose right there in the studio while dad was finishing recording the orchestra on a different section--all of this was fully credited.  3/ In 2003, after accepting a commission from the WDR Big Band
 (well known in Germany) to write a work for the band based on Mussorgsky's
"Pictures at an Exhibition," his diabetes started really acting up.  I wrote the entire thing on his behalf--all 10 movements--consulting with him along the way, and sent it in. They loved it, agreed to give us both credit on the CD as arrangers (because they had originally intended the job for him) and now it's very popular in Europe, being performed by many big bands around the continent,
all with me fully credited in the
program notes.  We also perform it with the Clare Fischer Big Band.

OL:
There's no better way than to
 feature in this OL Interview with You, Brent... than to start off with one of your awesome arrangements on none other than the 'Christmas' CD track of
R&B Jazz Legend Vocalist extraordinaire
 Mr. Al Jarreau,
himself... on
 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' ...Another collaboration with
You and your Dad... Tell us about working on Sir Al Jarreau's track?

Brent Fischer:
That one was written from the ground up and features a family of clarinets rather than strings.  First, I put a lead sheet of the tune in front of dad at the piano and asked him to harmonize the melody with his own changes. incorporated those into a rhythm section chart that I added an intro and interlude to.  Those were based on some
Brazilian style keyboard comping patterns that dad adapted from
 listening to Jazz Great Baden Powell comp on Guitar. Examples of this comping style can also be found on dad's original compositions "Xapuri" and "Pra Baden," among others. Jarreau and his band did their tracks using my chart and then I went about writing for the woodwinds based on what they had recorded.  Even though I had written the rhythm chart,
I still transcribed what they recorded to get all the nuances.  To me, this is the best way to write an arrangement.  If I am fully aware of every subtlety, I can wrap it all in the velvet of orchestral beauty without obfuscating it.  For my orchestra this time
I chose 2 Flutes, 3 Clarinets and Alto,
Bass and Contrabass Clarinets.  One of my favorite sounds is a Bass Clarinet in the the upper or clarion register and I found an appropriate use for that as well as one of my other favorites:
Alto Clarinet in the lower or chalameau register.  Word got back to me later that they found my "attention to detail staggering" and that Jarreau was in tears listening back to the final mix.
 I consider that the ultimate compliment.

OL:
Wow! that's really a great Jarreau moment, Brent!... In keeping with the Holiday Spirit, there is great 'Snowflakes of Love' track from R&B Vocalist Star
Toni Braxton's'
"Snowflakes" CD, that we're also featuring during this OL Interview.
What gorgeous and warm string arrangements You have on this track, Brent... It allows many beautiful spaces for Toni's great vocals to be free in the music, by just  melodically  sigh along... The Fischers have done it once again. Let us in on the secret to your
musical magic?

Brent Fischer:
That's an interesting story highlighting the vagaries of the music
 industry.  Toni had written some lyrics to the original Isaac Hayes recording for
Earl Klugh.
  She added them onto that recording and presented it to the record company.  They agreed to have it on her new Christmas CD re-arranged for string orchestra and rhythm section only so they wouldn't have to pay for a full 70 piece orchestra like Hayes had used. 
They called me in to take on this huge task: incorporate all the elements from Hayes' arrangement, including
 re-orchestrating brass and woodwind lines for strings, then add the Fischer touch with my harmonies.  The only item we would keep from the version the record co. had heard was Toni's voice.  So I wrote everything from the ground up again, this time recorded all at once with me conducting.  It was truly a great session and everyone was pleased--except the record co.  In the weeks that it took to complete this project they had gotten used to hearing the demo version with all the Bassoons, French Horns, Etc., that they had denied me in the budget.  So Toni fought hard for my version and we ended up with both of them on the CD--the one the Company wanted and mine re-mixed as an instrumental with her luscious vocal effects added in. They also gave me a great credit on the CD; mine is the only arranger's name to
appear on the outside cover.

OL:
Well, congratulations to Toni and You, Brent... on the outstanding arranged "Snowflakes of Love" track, it speaks for itself... In general Brent, would there different approaches when You're arranging for a Vocal track, as opposed to an Instrumental track?

Brent Fischer:
As we've just seen, sometimes it's hard to know exactly how the final will end up.
 Great writing should stand on its own whether its backing up a Singer, a Sax player or even a piccolo trumpet. 
Having said that, I certainly like to know as much about final plans for a song as is available, keeping in mind that things may change.  It is the total combination of lead melody plus instrumentation for the backgrounds and mood of the song that will determine my approach to an arrangement.  In that respect, every single song is different.  When I was exploring treatment
options for my big band arrangement of "Pictures at an Exhibition" I studied others' treatments to make sure I wouldn't repeat history, so to speak, by choosing a setting that had already been used. On the other hand, I get so many requests for strings only behind a Vocalist that then it becomes a matter of: how can I use that string orchestra in a way that will be fresh and inventive in manner befitting the sensibilities of the Singer? My Goal is to fulfill the Artist's
(and listener's) expectations part of the time and surprise them the other part--if you do too much of one or the other it becomes boring or worse, completely unpredictable.

OL:
Brent, as we're on your 'Sounds to the
Stars Track' this week,
 the exciting anticipation about the
moment of your first meeting and working with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, on his 'This Is It' CD can hardly be contained...
As we open this up in the next
segment, in the meanwhile, can You give the OL Readers 'one word' for now... on what it was like to meet Michael Jackson
for the first time?

Brent Fischer:
How can I sum that up in one word?!
 If I had two words, I'd say:
 'Completely Professional'.
 If I really can just choose only one,
then: Inspiring. 

OL:
Thank you very much Brent, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this
OL 
Interview 2 of 7 segment?

Brent Fischer:
Writing for large orchestras and Producing have one very interesting facet (among others) in common: you need to have a vision of the big picture.  Sometimes, before I take on a huge project, I step back and imagine the finished product, then how the mixing gave us that, then how the recording gave us the rough mix, and finally how the writing led to the recording.  In other words, I look at my goal first, then work backwards on the steps that helped achieve that goal,
breaking everything down into all the fine details that will provide the listener with the ultimate impact.

OL:
Thanks so much, Brent, for such an informative segment and for sharing some of the highlights of Your spectacular Career... We look forward to Part 3 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series!
Next segment... here's a 4 word preview: Working with  Michael Jackson!
And thank you all for visiting OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!


OL:
Welcome Back to the multi-talented Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer!
Thanks so much for hanging out with us here at OL, Brent... this being Part 3 of our 7 day Interview for OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series. Okay...
This Is It! Michael Jackson time...

OL:
Brent, earlier in this OL Interview...
the one word, 'Inspiring', was one that You shared with us, reflecting on your first time meeting the King of Pop, Michael Jackson! Now 'This Is [truly] It'... where the
OL Readers
get a glimpse of the workings of your Orchestral Arrangements for the
Gloved One's '
This Is It'
(Orchestra  Version)
track. You also mentioned, without a doubt about the world over, beloved Michael Jackson... the man of many extraordinary unbelievable gifts...'completely professional'...
Take us there, Brent, when You were working on Michael's treasured recording moments?

Brent Fischer:
First, let's go back to October 2003.  We get a call that they want to make an entire CD of Michael Jackson with full orchestra. 
It was to be something magnificent on a grand scale, showcasing a depth and serious side that perhaps the world needed
reminding about.
So we were taken to Neverland for a private meeting. Upon arriving at the compound, we were escorted in to the main house by a very polite staff and fixed a meal in the guest waiting room.  When Michael finished his other meeting, we were then led into a small, softly lit room with tables of small crystal
sculptures and other souvenirs from world travels.  The staff brought Michael in and introduced us, then quickly disappeared.  Here we were in this compact space with a most humble and gracious host. 
He immediately asked us to tell him about ourselves and our work. 
We got straight down to business, synopsizing our history, our pride in our craft and where our father and son writing teamwork would fit in to the project he was interested in doing.  He was a good listener and punctuated our comments with brief, insightful questions.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a door opened and his 2 eldest kids came leaping in, bursting with energy.  They romped around the room and started telling him what they wanted for Christmas.
After we all played with his kids for a bit,
I asked Michael if there was any other info he'd like from us.  He said "No, I feel the love. Let's get started." So we all went outside and piled into a Bentley, dad in front and me in back with the kids,
and Michael drove us down past the amusement park to the Movie theatre/Studio complex. In a giant storage room was a piano.  My Father and I took turns playing through various songs while Michael sang.
We figured out the most comfortable keys on about ten tunes in under an hour and discussed general instrumentation and our orchestrational approach.  Then 2 assistants showed up and gave us all the compound telephone numbers and took ours so we could be in touch as the project got going. 
I remember telling Michael to feel free to call me anytime, even late at night.
He and his assistants laughed and murmured something about being careful with offers like that because he would probably
take me up on it.
Unfortunately, less than 2 weeks after this wonderful meeting, the now infamous charges were filed against him and we never heard from anyone there again.
  Until 2009, that is...

OL:
The Fischers meeting Michael Jackson... truly an unforgettable moment that must be for You and your Dad, Brent! Respectfully, Michael Jackson was known for being very hands-on, throughout his amazing Solo Career... Was the string arrangements for song 'This Is It' (Orchestra Version) discussed in detail before the rehearsals,
in terms of what he was looking for?

Brent Fischer:
That's a very important point: there is always discussion before the session, but never any rehearsal.  Every orchestral arrangement you've ever heard from us was recorded in about an hour.  Really long or complex songs might take 2 hours.  In a time crunch,
our record so far is 25 minutes from putting the chart in front of the musicians for the first time to running through checking for copy errors and discussing fine points of performance to getting 3 good takes.
We've worked with these musicians for decades now and we all know what to expect from each other. Paying for an orchestra is expensive, so I go into a session knowing exactly what I want and how to get it.
This was especially necessary on "This Is It." The song had been found on an old cassette tape while going through Michael's belongings, shortly after his tragic passing.  There was a flurry of activity to make it possible for this to be on the documentary and the CD.  We were called on Saturday, September 5th and recorded on Tuesday the 8th.  It was exactly 71 hours from the time
I first heard the song until I stepped in front of the orchestra to conduct my arrangement.  With a turnaround this tight, I kept my dad as involved as possible by going over ideas with him, but it was really up to me alone to
make this happen. 

Brent Fischer:
I decided the orchestra had to have a unique palette for such a historical song.
 Besides strings, I chose 3 Alto Flutes, Bass Flute, Alto Clarinet, 2 Bass Clarinets, Contrabass Clarinet, Piccolo Trumpet,
2 Alto Bugles, 2 Marching Baritones, Contrabass Bugle and for the very last
low note--a Bb--Tuba.
In other words, I had a woodwind section  without the standard C Flutes or Bb Clarinets and a Brass section without conventional Trumpets, Trombones or French Horns. 
The low woodwinds made it possible to have an alternate to deep brass or string textures and the valved bugles had a mellow, haunting yet majestic gravity befitting this musical epitaph.  I wrote most of Saturday night,
all Sunday (even taking the untitled score to my previously scheduled gig to work on during breaks), most of Monday, stopping only to confer with coordinators on hiring of musicians, studio, engineer, etc., and to sleep a bit, before finally finishing Tuesday at 2 pm--just enough time to get parts copied, study the score, eat and go to Capitol Studio.

OL:
In general, Your work as an Orchestral Arranger for Pop, R&B & Jazz Artists...
how would Your arranging style for Pop Music in a project like Michael Jackson's be distinguished in your approach from the other music styles just mentioned?

Brent Fischer:
On "This Is It," we made some takes with the entire orchestra, then additional takes with each section separately, for ultimate mixing control.  Because of that, it actually took almost 3 hours to put everything together.  This is fine for a large orchestra but with smaller groups such as a chamber orchestra, big band or horn section, it's usually best to try to record with everyone in the same room.  The permutations of sympathetic vibrations between instruments, room and each other is exponentially greater. I know that sounds cold an analytical like a math or physics professor, but it's true.  That warm glow one gets from listening to a fine group of musicians is partly due to every player's sound waves traveling in and around all the other instruments and the room as the group establishes a blend. 
Because of my background with so many styles and instrumental settings, I have elements to draw on that are not part of the standard conceptual vocabulary.
I feel just as comfortable playing Bass in a Brazilian group, playing Percussion for a Japanese pop singer, producing tracks for a rock band, or writing a string quartet because I've done all of those and more.  To me,
a good musical idea transcends all styles.
It's context that counts when fitting that idea into a given setting.  In that respect, I can be working on an R&B tune, for example, and something will remind me of a piece by Stravinsky, or by Jobim.  I might get inspiration from that unlikely source and assimilate the concept into the current context.  Specific Examples: 1/ On my piece "Living Extra Large," from the Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir CD "A Family Affair,"
the main melody and harmonic motion of this "straight ahead Jazz" style
 tune are derived from the augmented scale (that's C D# E G Ab B C), one of the lesser known scales my father deftly uses on
 "Time Piece" from his CD "After the Rain," and the final ending is derived from the last beat of Edgar Winter's Hard Rock classic from the 70s, "Frankenstein."  2/ For my string arrangement on "Temporary Insanity" from the CD "Taking Back Brooklyn" by singer Krista, I drew inspiration from Persian melodic scales that incorporate both minor and major thirds and from
Bartok's
"Music for Strings,
Percussion and Celeste."


OL:
As the Michael Jackson 'This Is It' Project was wrapping up, and then the unbelievable happened... We lost Michael... We would appreciate it Brent, your sharing with us, what You felt when You heard the news?

Brent Fischer:
Initially there was a sense of shock,
then I wanted to check the news to make sure this wasn't a rumor or hoax.  Immediately after that I thought of his children. 
He still had so much to do in his life,
but raising his kids was the most important.
 It was bittersweet in a way when we got the call for "This Is It."  It was only a few months after his funeral.  It was just as great an honor to work on it though because we knew there had been a meeting of the minds when we had met him at Neverland.

OL:
Thank You, Brent. We're sure that many
OL Readers
and Michael Jackson Fans really appreciate reading about your Professional working moments on
Michael Jackson's
'This Is It'...
Now one of the many things that we like about Interviewing You, Brent, is that like Michael, your openness to all kinds of music, as we're featuring various track styles during this OL Interview, of some of your outstanding recording credits and highlights...
 tell us... how did You end up specializing in so many types of Ethnic Music and how do they differ from World Music?

Brent Fischer:
World Music is a great genre that has risen in the last 20 or so years, increasing the variety of sounds that Westerners can enjoy--much like all the different ethnic restaurants have increased the variety of tastes. It is quite distinct, however, from what people in all these other countries are enjoying. 
Just as Chinese or Indian restaurants outside of their respective countries have to adjust their cooking to suit western tastes,
World Music is an aural synthesis of those elements from various countries that are palatable to western ears. Generally speaking, many ideas are derived from,
but not necessarily related to, music of Latin origin with a smattering of Arabic and
West African
flavors due to Spanish music being influenced by contact with Arabs and Africans prior to colonization of the Americas.  Of course this may be over-generalizing because Celtic, Japanese, Indian and other derivations have recently become popular, but fundamentally the African influence is huge and stretches all the way from South America to the Middle East and perhaps beyond.

Brent Fischer:
Ethnic Music then provides the local basis for what ultimately becomes amalgamated into World Music.  It is non-homogenized and in some cases is an acquired taste for Westerners. If one grows up hearing predominantly major and minor scales in equal temperament and 4/4 time signature,
 it can be potentially unsettling to encounter the microtonal scales and asymmetrical rhythms used in Turkish or Afghan music.  But that's where an incredible variety of musical ideas can be found; by listening to what the locals listen to.
The first thing I do when I travel internationally is check out the music being played on tv, radio or live.  Better even to be a part of it. About 25 years ago I realized that, by playing Salsa Music idiomatically,
I had liberated myself from
thinking that so called foreign music was a deviation from the norm.  It is its own norm, a separate platform from which to view every musical context.  Once that happened, it became easy to fine tune my ear so I could adjust my playing technique to match what
I was perceiving from
musicians of about 20 different countries.
 I learned how to groove to their specialized beats, be considerate of their melodic and harmonic sensibilities and even figured how much I had to bend a string over certain frets on Bass to match their intonation.
 Word spread quickly among the
various ethnic groups in L.A. that I was the white guy who didn't sound white; the ultimate compliment was being hired by bands where I was the only player not from their country.  Because Guitar, Keyboards and Drums are the most popular
instruments that could be used by ethnic bands besides those instruments specific to one country only, there always seemed to be a shortage of Bassists so I became a big fish in many small to medium ponds.
 My life has never lacked variety.

OL:
Brent, tell us about one of your highlighted performances as a performing Symphonic Percussionist and how much of it factored into your love of Ethnic Music?

Brent Fischer:
The most adventurous stuff was always what my father wrote for Prince. I had a great time writing for and playing in the orchestra at the 2004 Grammy's with Prince and Beyonce, but doing the recordings for "Alexa de Paris,"
"Crystal Ball" and "All My Dreams" (that one is still unreleased) was something else.
 We had a whole section of the big room at Oceanway Studio baffled off and filled with Tympani, Vibraphone, Marimba and dozens of smaller percussion instruments.  I worked my way through each one of them playing written parts and also occasionally coming up with ideas on the spot. Being a rhythmist from my earliest years, first starting on Drums and then adding Percussion, I've always been fascinated by unusual grooves.  That helped a great deal when it came time to unlock the secrets of beats from around the world.  I look at each style from a separate perspective.  Sure, there may be commonalities between different Latin rhythms such as Bossa Nova and Mambo just as there are universal aspects to pitch and harmony across the globe, but each one is arrived at from a unique conceptual basis and should be considered as such.  In other words, just because you can find written lines that look identical from one country to the next, doesn't mean you should phrase them the same way.  Each country has its own basis for interpretation.  That's why it's sometimes painful for me to perform with a Persian group that wants to play an Arabic song, or an American group that wants to play Latin Jazz; if they don't consider the musical perspective of the other style, it's like speaking Spanish with a gringo accent.
 That adds a whole new dimension to the phrase "Ignorance is Bliss."

OL:
This is an incredible education.
 Thank you, Brent... As we continue throughout this week, to highlight Your work with R&B Artists such as Eric Benet and
Toni Braxton...
& Your extensive work with your Dad, Dr. Clare Fischer & Consulting work... tell us Brent...

OL:
is there a difference in how Your Artistic creativity is expressed when working for Celebrities, as opposed to emerging or lesser known Artists?

Brent Fischer:
It's like my dad taught me; there is only one level and that is professional. I put the same amount of compassion and thought into everything I do.  I don't worry about trying to save my best licks for special occasions because I rarely have a shortage of ideas.
There are just 2 differences with celebrities: 1/ they can usually afford bigger orchestras and 2/ because of their super busy lifestyle, scheduling can be tricky. 
Actually, I find it very gratifying to work for an unknown and then watch that person become big, knowing that I played a part
 in their rise.

OL:
Thank you very much Brent, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this OL Interview
3 of 7 segment?

Brent Fischer:
Thinking back to some of my earlier comments, I realize that I may sound a little clinical when describing aspects of my career.  I hope that won't be mis-interpreted as indifference to my work.  It's just that I find it important to keep an even
head when dealing with huge projects, so
I won't be distracted by being awe struck about the situation I'm in, or start to doubt my capabilities to be decisive and confident.  When you've got 10, 20, 50 musicians
on the clock.
It's imperative to be efficient, while at the same time, fully realizing the emotional content of the art to the highest degree.  Then, years later, one can sit back and say "That's right, I really did that!"

OL:
Thanks so much, Brent for such an informative segment and for sharing some of the highlights of Your spectacular Career... We look forward to Part 4 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, where Brent Fischer gives us a one-word playback on OL's weekly one-word commentary segment of this Interview...
so come back to OL and enjoy!
And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!



OL:
Welcome Back, Brent. It's nice to have You on again, this being Part 4 of our 7 day Interview for OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series.

OL:
We're at the segment Interview
 feature, where we introduce a
 'one word' Interview question to You, Brent, and if you can you please playback a One-word Commentary Note for the
OL Visitors,
that would be special!...
let's go, Brent!!

OL:
Visionary?
Brent Fischer:
Necessary

OL:
Studio?
Brent Fischer:
Concentration

OL:
Instrumental?
Brent Fischer:
Color

OL:
Listen?
Brent Fischer:
Carefully

OL:
People?
Brent Fischer:
Enablers

OL:
Express?
Brent Fischer:
Connect

OL:
Sensational?
Brent Fischer:
Pandiatonism

OL:
Paris?
Brent Fischer:
Replete

OL:
Mom?
Brent Fischer:
Nurture

OL:
Dad?
Brent Fischer:
Inspire

OL:
Terrific!...and thank you very much Brent, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this
OL
Interview 4 of 7 segment

Brent Fischer:
One more concept to think about: Aural Perception.  Almost every sensory experience is usually two-fold in that there is a cognitive, or analytical comprehension and an intuitive or emotional realization. 
If you are eating a delicious soup at a
fine restaurant the sensation of taste provides you with a recognition of the flavors and a feeling of comfort; your eyes give you a look at the ingredients and an appreciation of how they're presented in the bowl; the sensations of smell and touch give you even more understanding and enjoyment.
But then as you're listening to the background music what do you perceive with your ears?
 Is your experience complete by recognizing the intervals of the melody, voicings of the chord progressions, rhythmic components and instruments used as well as your intuitive grasp of the mood of the piece?  If not, then you're missing out on a vast array of information that could enhance your listening pleasure and overall quality of life. Don't feel left out, though; hearing is the least developed human sense. We all learn the names of colors, smells and tastes but many do not learn the names of sounds.  Imagine if you could (and I know some of you can) hear a single chord from a horn section and identify that it was 2 Trumpets, a Tenor Sax and a Trombone playing a closed structure 2nd inversion 7th chord just as effortlessly as you're able to identify the color of the instruments as being a pale amber shade of yellow. I'm not talking about developing perfect pitch either; absolute relative pitch is much more useful.  But there is more to it than just identifying notes, rhythms and chords.  It is a deeper understanding
of music, that while making
acceptance of mediocrity in the world
more difficult, leads to an exponentially greater enjoyment of
true artistic creativity.

OL:
Thank you, Brent. We look forward tomorrow in Part 5 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes Weekly Interview, as Producer Arranger, Brent Fischer talks about working with
Eric Benet, Toni Braxton,
Artist Consulting & more... with OL!
And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!



OL:
Welcome Back to celebrated
Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer!
It's nice to hang out with You for this
Holiday Season!
Part 5 of 7 of the
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series!

Brent Fischer:
My best wishes to all for a great 2011!
 
OL:
R&B Singer Eric Benet's 'One More Tomorrow' track from his "Love & Life" CD, that we're featuring on this Interview, Brent... tell us about working with Eric and your great arrangement of this beautiful song that we're listening to?
 
Brent Fischer:
Such a focused and driven Artist, it was a pleasure to work with him.  He and writer Demonte Posey did an incredible job of forming the music.  What they sent me was exactly what was needed to fit the orchestral arrangement to the vocal and rhythm tracks.  Normally, I always ask clients to send a mix that's as close to the final without having orchestra on it as they can get it. 
That way the orchestra can truly compliment all aspects of the singer's art in great detail.  Without even talking about it, this is precisely what Eric did.  After our initial phone conversations, I got to really know Eric and Demonte's rough mix, listening with my father and consulting with him on instrumentation and other details, much like he does with me on other projects. 
They had also sent printouts of their midi data in lieu of a written chart--that made the transcribing process very quick and efficient.  There were a lot of details to work out but Eric and I dealt with them easily and I had a great time putting together the arrangement. The recording session was hard work, but also thoroughly enjoyable.  Eric and Dad hung out in the control room while I conducted each take.  When it came time to listen back,
we were able to concentrate intensely on every subtlety and develop a shared vision for the outcome.  The only thing I regret is that Eric and I were so immersed in studying the takes that when Lee Ritenour, who was tracking in the next studio there at Capitol, came in to say hi, only dad had a chance
to talk with him.

OL:

In the world of Pop Music...
who are some of the Artists are You listening to these days?
 
Brent Fischer:
I'm producing 3 projects in parallel right now (Vocal Jazz, Big Band and Solo Piano),
with another coming up, so it's hard to find time to check out current hits.  At the same time, there is so much variety out there as genres expand or become fragmented;
I've noticed a lot of up and coming bands from all over the world as I consult with
Fame Wizard, Inc.
on their website for Independent Artists.  Thanks for reminding me though.  I should start flipping around the radio more as I'll soon be on a Music Industry panel discussion with Simon Phillips and
Brian Malouf (Vice President of A&R at Disney Records),
among others, at the 2011 NAMM show in January. 
 
OL:
Brent, not only are You one of the most celebrated Music Producers, but you're also involved in Artist Career Development
as a Consultant.

OL:
Tell us about www.famewizard.com and the role that You play when working with new Artists?
 
Brent Fischer:
I started consulting privately with Independent Artists in the 90's,
advising them mostly on music matters, but then branching off into project and tour coordination/management.  As I took on more roles in the Music Industry, I started
gaining first hand knowledge of how record companies, both large and small, did business and also how the Artist support infrastructure of equipment makers, engineers, arrangers, etc., worked together with producers, publishers, promoters and music rights organizations.
These experiences proved very useful when
I was approached by the people at Fame Wizard.  They have a brilliant business model for providing total support to Artists up to and including the point where they might either get signed or start their own label.  At first, the company was composed of successful businessmen, lawyers and some Independent Artists looking for a better way to get their music out there.  I was the one with actual Music Industry experience who could give them an insider's viewpoint of what it's like to earn a living at this craft.  So they signed me on as Executive Vice President and we all proceeded to design the services from the ground up.  As soon as the vision of the CEO was becoming a reality, I went back to my music work but stayed available as a consultant and advisory board member.   Fame Wizard is in a unique position to help shape the future of the Music Industry through their goals to promote, educate and compensate Independent Artists.  That's why it's really a career development company, the first of its kind for the 99% out there not signed to a major label.  No matter what level of success an Artist has or wants, they can get help to navigate the industry, sell their music digitally and get paid electronically so there's no inventory or check cashing to worry about.  It's also designed to make it easy for fans to discover new acts and find the kind of music they really want to listen to so it's win/win for all sides. That's why I got involved.

 OL:
With the many hats that You wear Brent so effortlessly, and with your time so precious and demanding, as an Arranger and Musician as well, Brent,
<www.studioexpresso.com>, is also spotlighting your work as one of the premier Music Producers!
That must be a wonderful and distinguished acknowledgment of the vast range of your work and Music Career?
 
Brent Fischer:
I'm in great company there; all of the Industry's leading Producers, Arrangers and Engineers are profiled and it was a great honor to be asked to join.  They're really in touch with the latest behind-the-scenes developments, keeping us and potential clients informed and in touch.  They publish a monthly on-line magazine that is packed with data on equipment, happenings and useful facts and figures laid out in a highly accessible fashion.  What Fame Wizard is for those at the front of the stage,
Studio Expresso
is for all the
creative forces that keep everything humming smoothly in the Music Industry.

 OL:
Let's see now... You've worked with so many great Artists, from Michael Jackson,
to Al Jarreau to Toni Braxton, Usher & many more... Tell us Brent, as a
Producer and Arranger, who would You love to work with in the future?
 
Brent Fischer:
You know, I'm not one of those people who has a type of music that they don't like.  Because it's about quality rather than genre for me, I'd like to keep the incredible variety going like its been.  Of course, there is a greater tendency for calls to come from R&B Artists because that genre is a direct outgrowth of Gospel and Jazz, with its more sophisticated harmonies.  That's why I encourage Artists in the so called "less is more" genres like Rock, Techno, etc. to still consider the timeless quality that
having a great orchestral arrangement endows upon a tune.  It's one thing to create a hit and another to make it in a way that will keep
people listening to it years later.
 
OL:
Thank you very much Brent, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this
OL
Interview 5 of 7 segment?
 
Brent Fischer:
Many people tend to think of an orchestra (especially strings) as something you would expect on a ballad, or any setting with a deep mood.  Another idea I encourage Artists to think about is the vast array of timeless colors that an orchestra can add to up-tempo songs.  Remember that 100 years ago orchestral music was the only thing around so it encompassed the gamut of human emotion from sad to happy, light to heavy, traditional to modern, conservative to experimental.  That's where all other genres of the 20th and 21st centuries came from.  So I find it interesting that there is less of a tendency to consider adding
 orchestral instruments to energetic music styles like Samba, Metal, Trance, even Big Band: I once helped Jazz Trumpet legend
Carl Saunders
put together a CD called
"Eclecticism"
that includes Strings as well as Brass and Rhythm and it was an amazing experience.  It still sells, more than a decade later, and I'm sure people will be listening to it next century.

OL:
Thanks again, Brent for another great segment of sharing with us, some your acclaimed recording
 experiences & perspective... We look forward to Part 6 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, where Brent Fischer gives us a glimpse of the Archiving of his Dad,
Dr. Clare Fischer's,
great works!
And thank you all for visiting OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!


OL:
Welcome Back to
Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer!
Happy Holidays, Brent! It's nice to have you here, where our OL Visitors get to spend some time and enjoy reading your Interview with us, during this Holiday Season.
Thank You once again!

Brent Fischer:
It's great to be here as we begin this
second decade of the  21st century!

OL
:
As we start to round up and come full circle... Tell us about the
 development of building the entire Archive Catalog Published Musical Works of your Dad,
Dr. Clare Fischer...

As the multi-talented Artist
that You are, Brent, this must be a very rewarding honor, and yet tremendous task that you're  organizing for your Family and the Musical Legacy of
 Dr. Clare Fischer,
the American Composer and Conductor?

Brent Fischer:
 Its been an incredible journey and it's far from over.  What started
 almost 20 years ago with my stepmom organizing my father's music into a library has really taken on a life of its own.  This is an important facet of American history
left up to me to preserve and manage. 
To date,  I have gone through at least 1/2 of my dad's entire 65 year output to make sure everything is in a condition that can be used by Artists, researchers and historians well into the future. Many of his scores have been photographed and digitized by a doctoral researcher who got a grant to do this; now the cataloging of hundreds of CD's transferred from reel to reel or 
cassette tapes--out takes,
 rehearsals, new ideas, rough mixes, etc.,
 is waiting for the next researcher.
Will it be one of you readers?
There is so much more than just putting together sheet music and recordings.
 For at least 10 years now I have been slowly identifying hundreds of pages of music manuscript with no title or note attached.  What was once a 4 foot (that's over a meter for those of you in other countries)  stack of scribblings has been narrowed down to about 5 inches (13 centimeters).  By placing the pages in front of my dad or some of his old friends, or by recognizing those ideas I have a memory of hearing him write; all of these pages now have a place in the library--
sketches of arrangements,
unused developmental sections,
 alternate chord voicings or
 instrumentations for existing songs, harmony exercises, the list goes on and on.
 As my knowledge of my father's music has expanded, I've been able to look at untitled parts or scores and recognize what song they belong to. That's how our current crop of CDs has come into being; they're an effort to make sure everything he wrote is released to the public.  It's amazing how many scores he penned and never had a chance to record
because of whatever was happening in his life or career at the time.
Besides all of this, there is the very difficult task of correcting copyist or publisher mistakes, especially
 fakebooks.  With music that is so unusual, there have been many times that people would look at what my father has written and
simply not believe it.  For years I watched my dad conduct sessions, where a player would question a part, not understanding how his
unconventional lines fit into the whole piece.  Once my dad ascertained that the part matched his score, he would tell the player to just believe in it and play it like he meant it!  That's what it took to get this extraordinary writing realized. We encourage musicians to ask us questions about songs through www.clarefischer.com so they will be playing the official
version.  Perfect examples of this are the standards "Morning" and "Pensativa"--
we have leadsheets of them with voicings filled in, official lyrics plus all the correct notes and chord symbols, many of which have been left out on recordings by others.
 It will be a long process, but a good portion of my life will be dedicated to making sure my father's music is understood in the way I have come to understand it from my
first hand experience.

OL:
Of your Dad's celebrated 'Clare Fischer's Jazz Corps' and Latin Band and the Clarinet Choir... it's really is 'A Family Affair'...
what is it like to continue on in his
tradition, directing all of your Dad's
various Bands, Brent?

Brent Fischer:
This is part of how I present my dad's music with all of the interpretational details I have absorbed from him over the decades.
It's one thing to throw a chart in front of someone and say "play it."  It's quite another to explain how my father likes lines phrased,
harmonies voiced and rhythms
 executed.  That's also where guest conducting other bands in a
 performance of Fischer music and writing in his style comes in to  further this purpose.
 When players start to see the big picture of <title>how this unique art differs from much of the other music out there, the response is always heartwarming and inspirational. 
I take this very seriously in order to honor
the music.

OL:
Brent, with all of these endless and wonderful opportunities to work on so many different types of music and projects, how do You find the moments in between to work on your own originals... or is it a matter of pacing through what feels right at the time?

Brent Fischer:
Most composers always have ideas going their heads.  The part that takes work is getting it crystalized on paper.  There are some ideas I'll have in my head for a while.  Every time I'm on a long drive or flight,
I will work through them until such time that I can sit in front of a piano to realize my creative vision. 
Eventually each piece gets put in front of a band at a performance or for a CD. 
There are times when a brainstorm hits and
I need to deal with it right then.  I try to create, though, in a way where I can pace myself to always have a good idea and a way of working it out,  no matter what time it is or how I feel physically.  It can be
exhilarating to write for long days on end and get a lot accomplished.  It can also be just as rewarding to slowly put something together,
taking breaks in between to sleep on it--
as I get older this method is preferred because it wreaks less havoc on my circadian rhythms (and any other type of rhythms).

OL:
What's coming down the road for You, Brent, with your own projects?

Brent Fischer:
I enjoy having a reputation that keeps me busy behind the scenes producing/arranging other people's music and am having the time of my life directing all the
Clare Fischer Bands.
 I still premier my original works with those bands so it's like being a Solo Artist without much of the baggage that goes along with that.  As new opportunities come along,
I'm keeping myself open to finding where I can make a larger contribution to civilization.
I've always remembered a concept, suggested by one of my college professors, of not just making a career but also creating something to further the betterment of humanity.

OL:
Thank you very much Brent, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist. Is there any music commentary you'd like to share with the viewers, in concluding this
OL
Interview 6 of 7 segment?

Brent Fischer:
I recall that, at the end of my first professional recording session way back in 1980, I told one of the other musicians that
I was pleased with my performance but knew
I could've done even better if there had been more time.  His response was "This stuff ain't gonna cure cancer." I can see his point that I should be content the session leader was happy so that means I did a good job. 
I'm not so sure about the literal connotation though; after years of seeing the joy people get from listening to music I helped create,
 I wonder-- Is it possible that profound music experiences can alter,
if only slightly, a person's physical well being?  I know there's a ton of research on both sides of this issue so, scientifically, the answer is still fairly inconclusive.  It makes me want to reiterate though how important I feel it is to develop one's sense of hearing to be able to truly perceive, in an all-encompassing way, the depth of profundity in highly creative music.  Those of you who have already done this know what I'm talking about.
 For the rest, imagine your most moving auditory experience,
then increase it exponentially...

OL:
Thanks much, Brent for your
gracious and in-depth Interview with OL on this 2011 New Year Season... Next, going to Part 7 of this 7 part
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series,
where
Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer
gives us his closing words for this OL Interview on where the Music Industry is today!
And thank you all for visiting OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!


OL:
Welcome Back to
Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer!
Happy Holidays, Brent! It's nice to have you

OL
:
Welcome Back, Everyone!...What a great way to celebrate our wonderfully successful
OL Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series...
thanks very much to Producer Arranger, Brent Fischer & All of the Guest Artists who have appeared on this
 Oceanlight Records Series.

OL:
This being Part 7 of our 7, with Producer Arranger Brent Fischer. As we have reached the closing segment of this Interview feature, OL would first like to thank You, Brent, for sharing your very special and legendary Producing moments with the 'Sounds to the Stars' and letting us spotlight and travel with You on your fast-track, resounding and global Music Career!

Brent Fischer:
Thank you for your informed and thought provoking dialogue.  I've had great fun with this whole on-line interview process because of the people at OL.

OL:
Thanks so much, Brent. That goes ditto for us here at OL and our Viewers. What a learning  and enlightening time we've spent with You Brent, online. We applaud your sharing so many acclaimed musical experiences with OL.
In closing of this Interview, if you will, please give us your closing liner note thoughts on where You see the state of the music industry stands today?

Brent Fischer:
Remember the old Chinese proverb:
"May you live in times of change."

 Is it a blessing or a curse? Only the future will tell.  I, for one, am a practical optimist.  Early predictions of the imminent demise of the music industry can be found in books and newspapers dating back  for years. Of course, these are probably the same people who said we'd be flying around in hovercrafts by now when we're not vacationing on Mars.  Even with the seemingly sped up pace of technological development, real change takes time. Companies like Fame Wizard and some of the more forward thinking entertainment conglomerates-- of which most record labels are subsidiaries-- know this and are planning accordingly. I was amused to read something recently by a futurist predicting that software will be developed to allow everyone to write their own songs, thus eliminating the need for
composers.  I guess by the same token we can all produce our own movies, tv shows, paintings and books too! Imagine that: private art creation for personal consumption by the individual creator.  Back in the real world, there are more artists than ever and, although it will be more difficult to gain the kind of popularity enjoyed by Michael Jackson due to the explosion of genre
sub-categories, these artists now find it possible to connect with people globally in a way not possible last century. 
The big challenge coming up industry-wide
is turning a fan into an actual consumer. 
I'm a firm believer in the philosophy that the more one knows, the more one realizes how much more there still is to learn.  30 years in the music industry has prepared me to be a better learner for new experiences to come.  With that in mind,
I'll offer some broad, whimsical
predictions of possibilities for the music industry in general: 1/ Within 20 years, every possible combination of "catchy" diatonic melodic figures in Pop music will have been exhausted, thus forcing songwriters to start copying previously used ideas or get more adventurous. 
2/ Sexuality, or at least visual
appearance, will continue to be the number one deciding factor of an artist's fortunes until such time, that society as a whole decides to better develop the human sense of hearing--you can't tell how sexy an open structure polytonal voicing can be until you can perceive it! 
3/ Even as consumers of music are looking to buy songs for the lowest price, they will continue to upgrade the equipment used to listen to them until someone invents a
device that can read all the types of media that are currently manufactured with built in obsolescence.
4/ Every song ever written in
history will eventually be set to a techno beat by a DJ.  No matter what people think about the  industry, the future of music itself is bright.  A music performance, like a theatrical play, always varies in subtle ways from the previous performance or recordings thereof.
In that way there is still infinite
variety to be had, even after all these centuries.  The level of musicianship
among educated
performers today is just amazing--
who says art doesn't evolve? 
Hundreds of years of performance practices have been refined as skill levels, understanding of and empathy for all the reasons behind compositional decisions are continuously explored.  This is happening all around the world and even right here in L.A.--I know, because I've been a part of it and my life is that much better for having experienced it.

OL:
Over this Holiday Season, we here at OL having had the immense pleasure of spending extended time with one of the
 Music Industry's most passionate, celebrated and hard-working  Music Producers, of none other than
Arranger Composer Brent Fischer...

OL:
With the recordings alone featured in this Interview, what we surely know, is that Brent has shared with us and music lovers, worldwide, his love of holding music itself the highest standard, by the sheer nuance of his tremendous talents... Thank you, to
Producer Arranger Composer Brent Fischer,
and thank you All for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!



Playlist samples:
Producer Arranger
Composer Musician
BRENT FISCHER

1. This Is It (Michael Jackson) Orchestra Version - Brent Fischer, Producer
2. Endlessly (Clare Fischer 'Rememberances' CD) - Brent Fischer: Bass, Drums, Synthesizer
3. Snowflakes of Love (Toni Braxton 'Snowflakes' CD) -
Brent Fischer: Conductor, Percussion, String Arrangements
4. The Quiet Side (LP Version) (Clare Fischer & The Latin Jazz Sextet 'Free Fall' CD) -
 Brent Fischer: Bass (Electric), Guest Artist
5. Crazy Bird (Clare Fischer 'Salsa Picante' CD) Bass (Electric),
Brent Fischer: Guest Artist, Marimba, Percussion, Vibraphone, Brent Fischer
6. One More Tomorrow (Eric Benet 'Love & Life' CD) - Brent Fischer, Arranger
7. His Mistakes (Usher 'Here I Stand' CD) - Brent Fischer: Conductor, String Arrangements
8. Serenidade (Clare Fischer / The Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir 'A Family Affair' CD) -
Brent Fischer: Co-Composing
9. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Al Jarreau 'Christmas' CD) - Arranged by Brent Fischer
Special Guest Artist Online Interview Feature...
BRENT FISCHER
PRODUCER ARRANGER COMPOSER MUSICIAN
www.studioexpresso.com
Original  OL Records Artist Interview: 12/19/10 - 12/25/10


OL Quote Pick of the Guest Artist's Interview!

Paying for an orchestra is expensive so I go into a session knowing exactly what I want and how to get it. This was especially necessary on "This Is It".  The song had been found on an old cassette tape while going through Michael's belongings, shortly after his tragic passing."

...Brent Fischer
Michael Jackson's This Is It
Endlessly (Clare Fischer 'Rememberances' CD)
Snowflakes of Love (Toni Braxton 'Snowflakes' CD)
The Quiet Side (LP Version) (Clare Fischer & The Latin Jazz Sextet 'Free Fall' CD)
Crazy Bird (Clare Fischer 'Salsa Picante' CD)
One More Tomorrow (Eric Benet 'Love & Life' CD)
His Mistakes (Usher 'Here I Stand' CD)
Serenidade (Clare Fischer / The Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir 'A Family Affair' CD)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Al Jarreau 'Christmas' CD)