Grammy winner did arrangements for Prince, Jackson, McCartney

Clare Fischer, a Grammy-winning composer who wrote scores for television and movies and worked with legendary musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, died Thursday, Jan. 26, in Burbank after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. He was 83.

An uncommonly versatile musician, Fischer worked as a composer, arranger, conductor and pianist for more than 60 years.

He is best known for his arrangements for Prince, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Branford Marsalis, Raphael Saadiq, Usher and Brandy.

Nominated for a Grammy 11 times in the best instrumental arrangement category, Fischer won for his album “Free Fall” in 1986 and for “Salsa Picante plus 2+2″ in 1981.

His film credits including Prince’s “Under the Cherry Moon,” for which he was orchestra composer and arranger.

Born in Durand, Mich., Fischer got his start playing piano and writing jazz-inspired arrangements for the Hi-Lo’s, an a capella quartet popular in the 1950s.

He worked as the arranger on Gillespie’s “Jazz Portrait of Duke Ellington.”

Fischer recorded 51 albums over his lifetime with his son Brent Fischer. The music ranges in style from jazz to salsa to symphonies.

“Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept,” Herbie Hancock is quoted as saying on Fischer’s website. “(Fischer) and Bill Evans, and Ravel and Gil Evans, finally. You know, that’s where it really came from. Almost all of the harmony that I play can be traced to one of those four people and whoever their influences were,” Hancock said.

Clare Fischer is survived by his wife, Donna; two sons and a daughter; and three grandchildren.

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