Pianist/composer Jesse Fischer‘s upcoming record, Day Dreamer has been generating a lot of buzz, and rightly so. The record represents an impressive effort by Fischer to combine many different musical sounds into a cohesive whole, a goal he achieves with ease. As fellow composer Mark de Clive-Lowe put it, “Jesse’s brewed an exotic blend of New York jazz stories and world music from klezmer melodies to afrobeat grooves – an intriguingly personal gumbo.” We’ve been looking forward to this album since we featured “Nomads” last month, and we’re really excited to be able to share the entirety of the album with you, along with some thoughts about each of the tunes from the composer himself.

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Jesse Fischer: Nomads — this melody just popped into my head one day while I was running. It reminds me of some traditional Israeli and Balkan dance tunes, but with an Afrobeat feel. Nomads refers to the Jewish people and how we’ve been bouncing around from continent to continent for thousands of years; it also refers to musicians and the itinerant lifestyle that we lead. Leon “Foster” Thomas is the most inventive and lyrical pan player I’ve ever heard and I knew I had to have him on the album ever since he sat in on my gig in Miami a few years back.

Refuge — This was my first ever time writing lyrics to a song that will appear on a record! Sarah Elizabeth Charles is an amazing spirit and vocalist and we just clicked the very first time we worked together. I co-wrote two songs for her album and then asked her for help writing for my album. This song came from our first writing session — she had an idea from a Maya Angelou poem (or memoir, not sure which) about music being a refuge and finding solace in the space between the notes. The basic chord progression and melody I had written on guitar earlier that morning as I had just woken up. Sarah helped me develop the melody and the different sections of the song. I went home and finished the lyrics. I’m really proud of how this turned out — simple, clear, direct.

Heading Home — I came up with this while boarding a flight back home to Brooklyn from Los Angeles. This song has two sections, the “pretty” section and the “dirty” section. I think it kind of represents the two sides of myself, as well as the contrast between L.A. and N.Y.C. Featuring the fantastic Zach Brock (from Snarky Puppy) on violin. I like how the melody seems simple but it actually navigates quite a complicated set of chord changes. The outro is like a mutation of the final phrase of the melody but played in a 15/8 montuno type groove, again, influenced by Bulgarian and Balkan music, which is frequently in 15/8 or 11/8.

Sangjee — This was written for my wife. “Sangjee” is a pet name in Korean meaning “little mouse” (she was born in Seoul). It’s actually based on a different song that she had written years ago. She’s a fantastic composer and violinist as well. I wanted to do something tender with a strong melody that’s sort of classically influenced and also has some folk music overtones. Zach Brock is on baritone violin here. I love his soulful playing, and especially the counterpoint between him, bassist Chris Smith and me.

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Lovin’ You — This is a Minnie Riperton song, released 40 years ago this August! I sang this to my wife on our wedding day. Well, I tried to; not much of a singer. I love the simplicity and beauty of the original so much, but we decided to do something a little mysterious and haunting instead for the record. Featuring Sarah again on vocals and myself on Moog solo, with Chris Parrello on acoustic guitars.

Day Dreamer — In case you were wondering, I’m the day dreamer. When I was a kid I was always lost in my own thoughts. This song is a kind of a musical rendering of that childlike sense of wonder and fantasy. This is also a melody that popped into my head out of nowhere, and it seemed to be best played in 5/8. The song consists of three sections — a slow, meditative theme, followed by a faster fantasy, followed by a return to the slower theme.

Hine Ma Tov — This is a traditional Jewish song. The words are from Psalm 133 — often translated as “Behold, how good and pleasant it is to dwell together in unity.” I used to play a different setting of the same text every Sunday morning when I played in a church called Unity Church. My family is not religious at all, but my dad had spent some time in Israel when he was a lot younger, and had an interest in Israeli folk songs and dance, which was really my first musical experience when I was very young. In Hebrew, the word here is “yachad” which denotes a more spiritual, universal type of unity. I think of it as that level of consciousness that can happen when a group of people join together to play music.

Suite for the Blue Planet — This is actually three different fragments that were written many years ago that happened to go together nicely. Once I realized how the pieces fit together, I thought my good friend Takuya Kuroda would sound really good on trumpet on this. He kills his solo and then alto saxophonist Godwin Louis slays on the outro section. We as a people need to realize how delicate our balance is on Earth and how interconnected we all are!!

Mourning Dove — This one is based on the actual call of the mourning dove bird. I grew up hearing this call all the time in Jersey when I was a kid. Every time I hear it I’m instantly transported back to my childhood. Funny how a melody can do that. I harmonized the bird call and then put words to it and Sarah did her thing!

Lily’s Lullaby — I wrote this for my daughter when she was in the womb. I wanted to write something that had a purity and joyfulness to it, something that’s not weighed down by the type of musical rules or concerns we tend to put on things as adults. That’s why there’s a 4 in the 3rd bar rubbing against the major I chord — you wouldn’t normally consider that to be the “right” chord or melody note, but I think it works! This is what came out.

Scroll down to listen to Jesse Fischer’s Day Dreamer here before it comes out this Friday, and make sure to pick up your copy once it drops. Cop it via iTunes or Bandcamp. If you want to hear the record live (and trust us, you do) head over to Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, at 10 PM tonight to catch the album release party.


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