Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lisa Fischer concert review

Photo by David Spodek
Last night I went to Koerner Hall in downtown Toronto to see legendary backup singer Lisa Fischer. Have you seen the Oscar winning doc Twenty Feet From Stardom? You can read my review by using the Search box in the top left hand corner of this page. Lisa is one of the featured singers in the film. She started out in the 80s as a background singer and she topped the R & B charts with the 1991 single How Can I Ease The Pain. When management changes at Elektra Records scuttled Lisa's second album, she returned to background singing and still does that today. Most notably, she has toured with The Rolling Stones since 1989 and she was featured on their 2005 live recording of Gimme Shelter. What is unusual about this tour is Lisa isn't promoting a new CD. She doesn't even have a record deal. She should be on Verve or Concord or Blue Note. Don Was, where you at, man? Her backing band Grand Baton is unorthodox but very interesting. They are from France led by JC Maillard. He plays guitar, piano and SazBass. What? Maillard invented the SazBass in 2000. It's an eight stringed mix of the saz from Turkey and the bouzouki. Maillard explains the SazBass on the 2014 NPR Tiny Desk Concert featuring singer Sofia Rei. You can watch this on Youtube. The other musicians are Thierry Arpino on drums who has toured with French violin legend Jean-Luc Ponty and bassist Aidan Carroll. Because this is a small band, the concert is very intimate though Maillard makes all kinds of noises with his various instruments. Because Lisa isn't promoting a new CD, she mostly mines her past including How Can I Ease The Pain. She also performs several Rolling Stones songs including Jumpin' Jack Flash, Gimme Shelter and Wild Horses. She also used two microphones, one for her singing and the other for vocal effects. That's very unusual but Maillard seems like the kind of guy who thinks outside the box. Of course Lisa is a great singer or I wouldn't be there in the first place. But as is usually the case with these Koerner Hall concerts, a lot of the audience are long time season subscribers who have no idea of Lisa Fischer's history. Would somebody please sign Lisa to a record deal and record her with this band?

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