Born: November 24, 1955 Primary Instrument: Guitar
After two decades of global touring and live concerts, Boston guitarist/composer Les Fish has created his first two CD projects: the funky jazz disc Other Spaces and the Afro-Cuban Les Fish and the Latin Jazz Cats.
As a teenager in the 1970s, Fish played guitar in various rock bands throughout the greater Boston area. He performed jazz-rock influenced original compositions in
shows from the North Shore to Cape Cod. While enrolled at Berklee College of Music, Fish formed his own jazz fusion group, and made money splitting his time between teaching guitar, nightclub gigs and recording jingles for local television stations. After attending Berklee, and studying with jazz guitar greats Mick Goodrick and Barry Galbraith, Fish joined up with future wife Lori Starr to form the band Amante. Touring full time for 18 years, Amante worked top hotels around the world and still performs throughout New England. “The band covered everything from bebop and sambas to pop dance tunes, said Fish. While at Berklee, I had fallen in love with Brazilian rhythms, and started writing bossa novas and sambas.”
The inspiration for the CD Les Fish and The Latin Jazz Cats came three years ago, when Fish was touring in Cuba. I was totally blown away by the musicians and jazz environment in Havana. After hearing this great music, I said I was going to come back and record. A year later, I went down and did a session at Egrem Studios in Havana. (studio famous for Ry Cooder and the Buena Vista Social Club recordings) Playing a couple of nights at the jazz club, La Zorra Y El Cuervo, added to my inspiration for the Latin Jazz Cats CD.
After his Cuban trip, Fish returned to his native Boston to seek out the best musicians to transfer his vision to CD. At Berklee College of Music, Fish found Associate Professor Oscar Stagnaro, a two-time Latin Grammy® award-winning bass player. When I heard Oscar in concert with Paquito D’Rivera, I knew he would be the perfect player for my music.
Other Berklee College of Music faculty members performing on The Latin Jazz Cats include saxophonist George Garzone, a member of Boston's legendary avant-garde jazz trio The Fringe; and percussionist/bandleader Eguie Castrillo, who has performed with many artists including Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Winwood and Jennifer Lopez. Playing keyboards on the CD is Cuban-born pianist Osmany Paredes, the award-winning leader of the jazz combo Menduvia.
Handling drums on The Latin Jazz Cats is Les Fish's son, Lee, who literally grew up on stage and at 3½ years old got his first standing ovation at Biddles jazz club in Montreal. Home-schooled on the road until ninth grade, he is now a 2005 Berklee graduate. Today Lee is one of the most highly sought after drummers at Berklee and the Boston area. He has recently played The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and done clinics and Jazz Festivals in Japan and France for the college. When not traveling, he is the drummer at Boston’s famous “Wallys Café” jazz club on Friday and Saturday nights.
The “Other Spaces” CD reveals another side of Fish’s compositional and playing talents. There is a wide variety of feels, from the funky “Camel” to the dreamy and melodic “Fuzziness”, which features the extraordinary talent of pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, who is currently touring with world renowned vibraphonist Gary Burton. Two tracks from the Latin album are included because of their different interpretations. Don't Squish A Wish features Lori Starr on piano and O
scar Stagnaro on upright electric bass instead of a standard fretted electric bass. Fuzziness is a guitar-piano duet. This CDs eclectic mix of music shows off the talents and skills of the musicians and their individual sounds.
Response to the two CDs has been strong throughout Boston’s music community. “Great songs”, “excellent playing”, “fresh and innovative compositions” and “super lineup of players” are a few of the comments. Mark Small, classical guitarist and editor of Berklee Today, commented “I enjoyed your CDs and you have a very distinct and clean guitar sound”. He also brought back a distant memory of the time Fish sold him one of the first Ovation acoustic/electric guitars when they were both students!
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