Clare Fischer must have been deeply touched by the outpouring of support and affection for him from the Los Angeles music community at a tribute concert at the Wadsworth Theatre in Westwood.
It was a benefit to help cover the pianist’s recent extraordinary medical expenses, and a long line of performers turned out. Much of the music reflected Fischer’s continuing interest in Latin rhythms. Its quality, despite the good intentions, varied from group to group.
Secret 9--actually a quartet--opened the Thursday evening concert with a set that virtually bristled with electronic energy. But the ensemble’s flashy note flurries and high-speed tempos were rarely matched by an equivalent amount of musical warmth.
The group was followed by the appealing pop jazz of Syndicado Brasil, sporting two lead singers and a colorful collection of samba rhythms. Rudy Regaldo’s 15-piece ensemble, Chevere, was even better. The ensemble’s sizzling Afro-Cuban rhythms, soaring vocals and powerful ensemble work provided both the musical and the emotional high points of the the first half of the program, which concluded with a solo-oriented set from an ensemble featuring guitarist Rick Zunigar, bassist Jeff Berlin, drummer Alex Acuna and percussionist Luis Conte.
Chick Corea’s unannounced appearance with his acoustic trio (Dave Weckl on drums and John Patitucci on bass) was the musical meat and potatoes of the program. A brief excursion through “How Deep Is The Ocean?” underlined how effectively Corea has managed to blend the rich harmonies of mainstream jazz with the complex rhythms of the ‘80s.
Pianist David Benoit had the misfortune to follow Corea--a positioning that only served to emphasize the fragile level of creativity that sometimes afflicts his music. Typically, Benoit’s best number was a light-hearted romp through Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy.”
The long evening finally wound to a close with a lovely a capella performance from Fischer’s vocal quartet and a funk-drenched appearance by Tom Scott’s “Pat Sajak Show Band.”
Donations to help fund Fischer’s recovery from severe head injuries continue to be accepted by Musicians Wives, Inc./Clare Fischer Fund at P.O Box 4685, North Hollywood, 91607.