Soaring Fischer shows amazing vocal range
Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton
Lisa Fischer has a huge vocal range and she did a great job of showcasing it in her performance at the Fairmont Southampton last week.
The Grammy Award winner and her band Grand Baton, took to the stage at the Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre on Friday for the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts.
Fischer's voice, in all its astonishing range — from male bass to female operatic soprano — sometimes blended into or punctuated the music and then soared over the other instruments, generating its own atmospherics.
Backed by guitarist and bouzouki player Jean-Christophe Maillard, percussionist Thierry Arpino and Aidan Carroll on bass, Fischer was most at home in the gospel and jazz tradition. At the same time, her voice was reminiscent of Yma Sumac, Miriam Makeba or Cleo Laine in its range and technical pyrotechnics.
The Amy Grant song Breath of Heaven combined deep faith and optimism in extreme adversity and included an urgent drum accompaniment by Arpino, full of rapid rimshots and snare sounds. The song must hold special meaning for Fischer, because it speaks to the story of her birth and upbringing in Brooklyn.
In Cooley and Blackwell's Fever, Fischer gave full rein to her technical skills while Maillard's guitar solo masterfully combined flamenco and Spanish classical with Caribbean phrasing and Hendrix-like blues riffs to make a brilliant accompaniment. Fischer's main song of the evening, her 1991 Grammy Award-winning song How Can I Ease the Pain, was delivered with huge tenderness and almost inexpressibly deep feeling, reaching nearly beyond the range of the human voice. Fischer appeared most comfortable while jamming with her trio — sometimes doubling with Maillard on vocals while he played the bouzouki, which has a slightly jangly, Middle Eastern sound.
The overall effect of Fischer and Maillard was that of a modern jazz duo, each musician building on the other's musical phrases to extend a unique dialogue.
The evening finished with a brilliant tribute to Bermuda, a Gombey snare solo by Arpino with Maillard expertly dancing.
The night was opened by the 14-strong Wall Street Band under the direction of Robert Edwards.
On keyboards, he played a high-energy set, which included Lil' Mo's Superwoman, Prince's Purple Rain and Lionel Richie's Endless Love.
The selection enabled the entire band to show off their considerable instrumental skills, tight discipline and teamwork.
This was a terrific concert by world-class talent. My only criticism is that the echo could have been used less.