Phishbacher trio - Dream Catcher

Walter Fischbacher - piano
Goran Vujic - bass
Ulf Stricker - drums

as guest: Elisabeth Lohninger - vocal on "clocks"

Recorded at Lofish Recording Studios, NYC, Nov 21st & 22nd 2013 engineered by MP Kuo, mixed and mastered by Walter Fischbacher

Dreamcatcher - A Mini Music Doc

01 Everything In Its Right Place (Radiohead)
02 With Or Without You ( U2)
03 I Can’t Stop Loving You (Michael Jackson)
04 Firework (Katy Perry)
05 Dream Catcher (Walter Fischbacher)
06 I Gotta Feelin’ (Black Eyed Peas)
07 While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison)
08 Clocks (Coldplay)
09 Mermaid’s Refuge (Walter Fischbacher)
10 I Can’t Dance (Genesis)
Detailed CD descritption (for nerds only!)
The general idea of this CD was take a list of covers spanning from 80ies rock classics to current top 40 hits, adapt them for piano trio and create a unique "phishbacher" sound. We keep part of the composition that's familiar to the listener as is (the melody for the most part) and at the same time throw in some new and unfamiliar ingredients that keeps the listeners on their toes. Most of alterations done to the original songs is of rhythmic nature, in some parts also some reharmonisations. The overall goal was to keep and honor the vibe of the original composition, but present it in a current piano trio fashion.

Just to make sure, with the math talk about odd meters coming up: It's all about the music in the end, the vibe that's created, the journey the listener is supposed to be sent on.

For the geeks of you I'll explain the details song by song:

Everything In Its Right Place (Radiohead)

Slow opening song of the CD to set the mood. We kept the original melody and harmony, added a little 1/8th note to the meter, so it becomes [4/4][4/4][5/8] instead of [4/4][4/4][2/4], and opened up the form for a slow cooking piano solo.

With Or Without You

Built upon two rhythmic stuctures that switch back and forth(intro - verse) or morph into each other (piano solo): A: [3+2/16][3+2/16][3/16][3/16][2+3/16][2+3/16][2+3+3/16]
B: [4/4][2+3/8][2/4]
Both rhythms work also played at the same time(piano plays rhythm A, bass and drums play rhythm B, or vice versa), which can create insteresting patterns and keeps the improvisation full of surprises.

I Can't Stop Loving You (Michael Jackson)

Ballade style, a little latin sounding 12/8, and of course there is an extra 1/8 in there that makes it feel a bit more laid back. The actual pattern is [3/8][2/8][2/8][3/8][3/8].
We use the original melody and changes, the piano solo is over a slightly marmonicly modified bridge, going into the out chorus 1/2 step up.

Firework (Katy Perry)

That's the song that's probably the furthest away from the original, since everything (harmony, melody and rhythm) has been tampered with. The rhythmic pattern is:
which of course adds up to [4/4][4/4], so it's a bit of an " escher sketch" idea, and like in "With Or Without You" we are switching back and forth between both structures. At the end of the piano solo it goes to the original bridge in 4/4, marking the climax of the song.

Dreamcatcher (Walter Fischbacher)

One of the two originals on the CD, this is the title track, and one of the few in a non odd meter (slow 3/4). Dreamy.

I Gotta Feelin' (Black Eyed Peas)

We kept the idea of the guitar/synth pattern of the original song, and put it into [11/8], with a subdivision of [3+3+3+2/16][3+3+3+2/16]. On top of that the melody is made to fit into the rythmic mold, but is still clearly recognizable. The piano solo goes on a harmonic journey far from the original, returning back to the intro pattern and the out chorus.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison)

One of the oddest meters of this CD ([17/16]). Many experienced jazz listeners I played the song for didn't even pick up on it.... Can be played in two different patterns:
A: [2+2+3/16][2+3/16][2+3/16] (intro)
B: [3/4][2+3/16] (head, solo)
Original melody and harmony throughout the song, except for the bridge, which is reharmonized in a chopin/debussy kind of way. I hope we did the song justice, although no guitar is on that track.

Clocks (Coldplay), feat: Elisabeth Lohninger (vocals)

Similar fake ballade 12/8 feel as in "I Can't Stop Loving You" with a slightly different pattern: [3/8][3/8][2/8][2/8][3/8]. Piano intro inspired by Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage". This track is actual proof that our weird odd meters are actually singable!

Mermaids Refuge (Walter Fischbacher)

The other non odd meter original composition on this CD. Inspired by Pat Metheny's floaty harmonies and Phillip Glass' cyclic compositions.

I Can't Dance (Genesis)

Gospel style piano groove with long outro jam. And ofcourse we clipped one 1/8 note every other bar, so it makes the walking and dancing harder :)

Aug 2014

The music on the Fishbacher Trio album is a melodic concoction which starts in the best jazz tradition and then courageously crosses various musical borders. The selection of the tracks on the new album, “”Dreamcatcher” is an example of that, interpreting songs of many pop greats such as Coldplay, Genesis, Katy Perry and U2. Done with humour and passion, the outcome of this effort is well worth listening to

By C. MICHAEL BAILEY, Published: March 20, 2014

Pianist and composer Walter Fischbacher with his wife, singer/composer Elisabeth Lohninger manage their Lofish Recording Studio in New York City when not pursuing each other's well- received recording careers. Fischbacher and his trio have enjoyed a productive new millennium, releasing their sixth recording, Dreamcatcher. Fischbacher eschews electronics in favor of piano trio for interpretations of ten contemporary pop classics ranging from George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (a wicked irony there) to Coldplay's "Clocks," featuring Lohninger on vocals.

Fischbacher shows no fear in selecting pop monuments from the last 40 years. U2's "With or Without You," is treated as an upbeat ballad with Fischbacher approximating The Edge's unique guitar approach. Ulf Stricker's assertive drumming propels the piece while Goran Vujic's muscular bass playing fills out the orchestral personality of the group. The three prove empathic regarding the dynamics of trio interplay. Michael Jackson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" is a breezy stroll sporting some of Fischbacher's most lyrical playing. Fischbacher's two original compositions, "Dreamcatcher" and "Mermaid's Refuge" effectively dissolve among the covers, providing a deepening of the recital. Genesis' "I Can't Dance" closes the disc with a 21st Century "The In-Croud" that is both savvy and hip.
By Alex Henderson, Published: June 20, 2014

Throughout the history of jazz, musicians have used popular songs as vehicles for improvisation. That was true when the Dixieland trailblazers of the 1910s and 1920s put a jazz spin on the show tunes of that time, and it is still true today. But in purist circles, it isn’t hard to find musicians who stubbornly cling to the dogma that only certain types of popular songs are appropriate vehicles for jazz expression—and those who think that way are quick to play bop versions of Tin Pan Alley standards but stay away from rock and R&B material altogether. Thankfully, other improvisers are rejecting that dogma. Acoustic pianist Walter Fischbacher is one of them.
Billed as the Phishbacher Trio, Fischbacher’s group (which also includes bassist Goran Vujic and drummer Ulf Stricker) plays an abundance of popular songs on Dreamcatcher. But none of them are Tin Pan Alley standards from the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s or 1940s. Instead, the Phishbacher Trio selects well-known rock and R&B hits. But one needn’t worry about Fischbacher, Vujic and Stricker playing a bunch of note-for-note covers the way that so many “smooth jazz” players do. Dreamcatcher is not “smooth jazz” but rather, puts a pianistic postbop spin on material ranging from Katy Perry’s “Firework” to U2’s “With or Without You” to Genesis’ “I Can’t Dance.” The performances have a lot in common stylistically with the piano trio recordings of Marian McPartland, Bill Evans, Chick Corea or Vince Guaraldi, but instead of hearing standards by Cole Porter, George & Ira Gershwin, Harry Warren or Irving Berlin, one hears Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You” or Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place.” And the fact that these songs came out of rock or R&B doesn’t make the Phishbacher Trio any less improvisatory. Make no mistake: this is a serious jazz album, not the work of a cover band.
The oldest song that the threesome tackles is the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” For the most part, Fischbacher and his colleagues concentrate on songs from the 1980s and beyond. The only non-instrumental selection is an arrangement of Coldplay’s “Clocks,” which features singer Elisabeth Lohninger. That track ends up being more adult alternative than vocal jazz, but even so, the Phishbacher Trio doesn’t go out of its way to emulate the original Coldplay version. Lohninger is an individual, and her individuality comes through.
The idea of using rock and R&B songs as vehicles for jazz expression is not brand new. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were souljazz artists and organ combos that found the jazz possibilities in the music of Marvin Gaye, the Beatles, Sly & the Family Stone, Aretha Franklin and the Doors. Organist Charles Earland recorded interesting versions of the Spiral Staircase’s “More Today Than Yesterday (which became his signature tune) and the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius,” and Ramsey Lewis’ acoustic piano trio became famous for its arrangement of Dobie Gray’s “The In Crowd.” Tenor saxophonist Joe Farrell recorded a great version of Stevie Wonder’s “Too High” in 1973. But unfortunately, rock and R&B songs were marginalized in much of the jazz world for a long time; Earland and Farrell were the exception rather than the rule. And in recent years, it has been good to see more and more improvisers—from the Bad Plus to singers Claire Martin and René Marie— acknowledging the fact that worthwhile popular music did not end with Tin Pan Alley. The Phishbacher Trio obviously realizes it as well, and that realization makes for a stimulating listen on Dreamcatcher.