Jacob Fischer….In New York City
Arbors Records ARCD 19444
Jacob Fischer (acoustic guitar) Chuck Redd (vibes) John Webber (bass) Matt Wilson (drums) Recorded June 11 & 12, 2014 at Avatar Studios in New York City
How About You/Love For Sale/Crazy He Calls Me/Swing 42/A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square/Puttin’ On The Ritz/Tenderly/Laverne Walk/Day Dream/Napolitana/Avalon/Everytime We Say Goodbye TT 64:07

Now that Arbors Jazz has reactivated itself in the past year or so under the auspices of Rachel Domber it was deemed time for another album from Danish guitarist Jacob Fischer. And hurray for that!
Jacob Fischer’s first album was reviewed in these pages (see IAJRC Journal March 2013) and another unique CD is in our hands for consideration.

This time recording in New York City (thus your title) the personnel was chosen carefully and the mix is singular. Chuck Redd generally rotates from drums and vibes when performing but sticks to the vibes on this date. Drummer Matt Wilson is likely the most in demand drummer on the New York jazz scene today and plays as lyrically as any in any genre. John Webber is on bass and grounded in classic bebop.

Jacob Fischer brings his Django tinged guitar into the mix through an imaginative selection of melodies.

The CD opens with a Matt Wilson drum introduction lightly swinging a hello on ‘How About You.’ ‘Love For Sale’ is cast in a bluesy cloud via an intro out of left field that returns throughout the arrangement. Fischer plays so delicately on ‘Crazy He Calls Me’ that it can very easily be called chamber jazz.
Kudos to legendary sound engineer Jim Czak for capturing the gentle touch and projecting it so effectively.

 “Swing 42’ sounds like a combination of Django jazz and George Shearing (and dig that splash cymbal behind Redd’s vibes solo!). Wilson plays so lightly and yet so dynamically at the same time! The voicings that Fisher and Redd manage are seamless and at times sound like one instrument. Webber’s bass is felt as much as heard. ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’ unfolds as a waltz, perhaps a first for this chestnut.

‘Puttin’ On The Ritz’ may be the standard on this album that is reimagined more than any other. The verse will at the minimum surprise you as the Irving Berlin classic is given a rare jazz exploration. Will Friedwald’s liner notes suggest that instead of ‘Tenderly’ this one should be titled ‘Bouncingly.’
‘Laverne Walk,’ composed by Oscar Pettiford is a feature for bassist Webber and he grabs the spotlight. ‘Day Dream’ is guitar and bass playing the melody straight almost all the way, respecting Billy Strayhorn’s tune as most jazzmen do.

‘Napolitana’ is the one Jacob Fisher original on the album and as you will hear it fits in without a hitch.
‘Avalon’ is recast almost unrecognizably after a brief introduction and they are off to swinging solos that only peripherally reference the old melody line. Straightforward ‘Everytime We Say Goodbye’ is the beautiful conclusion to an album of ranging taste and expression. Don’t miss Fischer’s clever injection of the closing strain from Gordon Jenkins’ ‘Goodbye’.

Every single standard on this album is played with a refreshing wonder. Let’s be honest with ourselves, too often new jazz albums fall short in firing our jaded interests. It is very tough for a jazz musician today to find originality as he or she is up against EVERYTHING that has gone on before them. An unforgiving task to be sure. Jacob Fischer has found the way to spur my interest as this album grows and grows with each successive listen. No Django clone in any way shape or form. This gentleman is on his way with this Arbors Jazz album number two. Don’t miss it and here’s to many more!
Pat Goodhope