And now for something completely different.
The studio backup singer Lisa Fischer, a touring regular with the Rolling Stones since 1989 and a featured voice in the Oscar-winning 2013 documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” is coming to Tucson on Friday, Feb. 12, as a part of the UA Presents jazz series.
“I believe jazz can sound like many things to many people and there are so many levels of expression of it captured in time,” said Fischer, feeling more comfortable answering questions via email.
“But what jazz represents most to me is pure freedom to make musical snapshots of your heart over and over again to offer to a listening audience,” she continued.
Fischer performs here with Grand Baton, a trio of multi-instrumentalists led by JC Maillard. The band is known for its world-music sound described as a blending of beats influenced by “rock, dubstep and the temperament of Caribbean carnival.”
Checking in on a few Youtube videos, it seems we should expect a creative mix of fresh rhythms combined with Fischer’s own home-cooked gospel singing straight from her Brooklyn church-raised soul.
“My favorite jazz singers are Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Eva Cassidy,” Fischer wrote.
As she grew up in the church in the 1960s, learning to harmonize by ear, her natural talents carried her into the upper echelons of recording studio work as a backup singer. She also toured for years with Luther Vandross and later with Tina Turner. Her discography includes albums with all of those singers as well as Chaka Khan, Sting, Chris Botti, Nine Inch Nails, Dolly Parton, Lou Reed, George Benson and other familiar names.
Her vocal range soars to Minnie Riperton heights, but credit the jazz-flavored trumpet of Botti for pulling Fischer toward jazz in the summer of 2010 when she appeared with him at the Newport Jazz Festival. They continued touring together for the rest of the year.
The artistic and commercial success of “20 Feet From Stardom” brought Fischer new opportunities when her manager introduced Fischer to Maillard in 2014.
Asked what songs to expect, Fischer listed her Grammy-winning solo recording from 1992, “How Can I Ease the Pain,” “Breath of Heaven,” one of her own compositions, “Last Goodbye,” and a big favorite she sings with Mick Jagger on those Rolling Stones tours — “Gimme Shelter.”
At one point in “20 Feet from Stardom” Fischer talks about how the Rolling Stones are always changing their songs around on stage, how every show is different.
“I don’t want to say it’s like jazz, but ... ” and she smiles. Later on when she talks about Jagger she tells the camera, “Mick and I had a very special relationship. We used to have so much fun just doing silly things, dressing in each other’s clothes, just crazy wacky stuff.”
As for Keith Richards, the seemingly indestructible Rolling Stone, she emailed “Keith is loving, kind, funny and wise. I adore him!”