“Pensativa” by Clare Fischer

One of our great treasures, the wonderful Clare Fischer, passed away earlier this year. One of his closest associates, the multi-instrumentalist Gary Foster, who is on the faculty at Cal State Fullerton, where I teach, gave me this music the other day. This is the authentic item, in Clare’s own hand, of his best known composition, Pensativa, a tune I have loved and played for years.
This will be required learning of all jazz pianists at CSUF, I can tell you!
Notice the absolutely precise inner part voice-leading, and the interesting “passing chords” he used. None of the “real books” out there correctly reflects all the nuances that Clare put into this piece, and, indeed, all of his work.
If you appreciate a particular voicing here, be sure to run it through all keys. I suggest going first up the chromatic scale with it, then do it in whole steps on both whole tone scales, and then in minor thirds, major thirds and then perfect fourths. When I run it in fourths, I go up a fourth and down a fifth, so I don’t run out of room so quickly. Art Tatum would do this with a two handed major 7th chord very effectively.