William S. Fischer

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Circles Review

by Richard S. Ginell

Still riding high in 1970 as a subdued, thoughtful arranger for Herbie Mann, Nat Adderley and other headliners, Fischer was given a flyer by Mann's Embryo label to front a record of his own. The results -- eclectic to a fault, sometimes wildly avant-garde, heavily influenced by the about-to-explode jazz-rock movement -- are not at all what one would expect from this man, who arranged and composed the whole package. The basic band is staffed by rock and folk (respectively) guitarists Hugh McCracken and Eric Weissberg, with Ron Carter on electric bass and Billy Cobham revving up the power pack on drums.Three tracks are fronted by serviceable R&B vocals by Bill Robinson; others approach the energy level of jazz-rock and even the ponderous pace of heavy metal. There are also tracks of abstract classical electronic music played by Fischer on an early Moog synthesizer -- one of them, "Capsule," is downright visionary -- and the Moog filters its way into other compositions as well. Only occasionally does the mournful signature string sound of Fischer turn up, courtesy of five cellos. One would liked to have heard Fischer expand upon, refine and hone this direction into some kind of breakthrough, but he left little more than this fascinating obscure LP.

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