Pianist/keyboardist Jesse Fischer has always focused on the groove in his music. It’s a bent of his that can at times lean to a kind of populism, it can also at times feel like overseasoning. Yet Fischer’s latest album, Day Dreamer, and album from the new father, an album more rested, more settled, is his most straightforward collection of songs yet.
The R&B influence that is the skeleton, muscle, and sinew of Fischer’s sound is certainly still here, but there aren’t one too many beats getting in the way, with percussionist Solomon Dorsey and drummer Adam Jackson displaying the right amount of restraint. The cleanness of the sound has that sharpness that polishes these songs to a high shine. The always charming Sarah Elizabeth Charles guesting on vocals continues her quiet conquering of 2015 as one of the best singers of the year. Her take on Minnie Ripperton’s “Loving You” is as easy as the act itself for the song’s beautiful subject, her cooing touches on the title track are perfect, yet the haunting “Mourning Dove” is an absolute surprise of an earworm. Another surprise is once again from one of the hottest violinists around, Zach Brock, whose work on the ever escalating “Heading Home” is a pure delight and “Sangjee” is altogether pleasant. And shout out to Takuya Kuroda for the heartwarming “Suite for a Blue Planet” and still reminding us this year how much fun it is to hear him play.
There’s less shuffling about on this album, less commotion, and more to enjoy here on Day Dreamer, than in previous releases. That signature sound is still there and the slight proclivity for hospital corners in these songs; Fischer makes a soul that can at times feel antiseptic, but that cleanliness can also be like the beautiful, life saving work that’s performed in the midst of an operating room. Less is more works for Fischer. Day Dreamer feels like a cleaning of the slate and a discovery of what newness comes when going back to the drawing board.
Jesse Fischer / piano, rhodes, organ, Moog, Juno, glockenspiel, percussion
Godwin Louis / alto sax (tracks 1, 3, 8, & 10), soprano sax (track 2)
Irwin Hall / tenor sax (tracks 1, 8, & 10), alto sax (track 10), flute (tracks 1, 8, & 9)
Jean Caze / trumpet (tracks 1, 3, & 10)
Chris Parrello / acoustic guitar (tracks 2 & 5)
Chris Smith / acoustic bass (tracks 1, 4 & 6)
David Cutler / electric bass (tracks 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, & 10)
Adam Jackson / drums (all tracks except track 7)
Solomon Dorsey / percussion (tracks 1 & 8)
Sarah Elizabeth Charles / vocals (tracks 2, 5, 6, & 9)
Takuya Kuroda / trumpet (track 8)
Zach Brock / violin (track 3), bari violin (track 4)
Leon “Foster” Thomas / steel pan (track 1)
Recorded by Kyle Cassel at Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City, N.J., on July 16, 2014.
Overdubs recorded by Jesse Fischer at Electrik Indigo Sound, Brooklyn, N.Y., August–December, 2014.
Produced by Jesse Fischer for Soul Cycle Music.
Mixed and mastered by Jesse Fischer at Electrik Indigo Sound, Brooklyn, N.Y.
All songs composed by Jesse Fischer (Soul Cycle Music, ASCAP) except “Refuge” composed by Jesse Fischer and Sarah Elizabeth Charles (Sarah Elizabeth Charles Music, ASCAP), “Lovin’ You” composed by Minnie Riperton (Embassy Music Corp, BMI) and Richard Rudolph (Dickiebird Music and Pub Co, BMI), and “Hine Ma Tov” (traditional).
Cover photograph by Isabelle Selby Linaburg.
Hand lettering and graphic design by Jesse Fischer.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.