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,
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...
to Al Jarreau,
to Toni Braxton,
to performing his orchestration magic on
Michael Jackson's, 'This is it'
and in no way, does it stop there,
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
once again, thank you and
Cheers! I'm honored to be part of this great series. Love those beautiful sounds coming from your label.
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?
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
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
are those that
I heard him play at home through the years and so wanted to share that experience
with the world.
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?
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
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.
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?
It's hard to single out one. Gary Foster
was always around and helped open my ears to musicality of interpretation.
and Cal Tjader
taught me about playing with heart, my cousin
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.
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.
What was your first gig on the College scene?
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.
Tell us about majoring in Symphonic
Percussion and how
You came to focus in on that specialization?
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
I have done some work as a percussionist, most recently with
but also Kirk Franklin,
Toni Braxton, Natalie Cole
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.
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?
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.
And your first Producing Gig after College?
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
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,
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?
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
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?
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.
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
Interview 1 of 7 segment?
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.
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
And thank you All...for visiting OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series!
Join Us again, on Segment 2 of 7 of