You can take the singer out of the Rolling Stones, but you can’t take the Rolling Stones out of the singer. That was part of the message of Lisa Fischer’s co-headlining set, Friday, on the opening night of the three-day Exit 0 Jazz Festival in Cape May.
Performing at the Schmidtchen Theatre at Lower Cape May Regional High School, Fischer included the Rolling Stones songs “Miss You” and “Jumping Jack Flash” in her set. Fischer toured with the Stones, as a backing vocalist and occasional Mick Jagger duet partner, from 1989 through last year, but missed their shows this year, due to her own commitments as a solo artist. Her career has really taken off since she was featured in the Oscar-winning 2013 documentary, “20 Feet From Stardom.”
Fischer, who lives in Hoboken, was backed in Cape May by Grand Baton, a three-man group with enough instrumental firepower to hold their own with Fischer’s stunningly powerful voice. J.C. Maillard (who played stringed instruments and piano), drummer Thierry Arpino and bassist Aidan Carroll were all given plenty of time to solo, and made the most of it.
Fischer sang, in addition to the Stones songs, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” and the jazz standard, “Fever,” plus her own material, including her 1991 hit “How Can I Ease the Pain.” Her covers were never straightforward, but loose and exploratory, exploring the contours of the melodies instead of just reproducing them. She and Grand Baton, for instance, added elements of African and Asian music to “Jumping Jack Flash,” and brought some swampy funk to “Rock and Roll”; these were utterly original and utterly winning reimaginings of two of the signature songs of the entire Rock Era.
She opened show with a moment of silence for the late Prince, and there were plenty of quiet moments in her set as well. But something explosive was always just around the corner. She had a warm, friendly presence throughout the performance; like many other artists who have had an unexpected late-career resurgence, she seemed to be grateful for the opportunity, and the audience fed off her positivity.
The festival continues today with Pat Metheny and Ron Carter (in a rare duo set), The John Scofield/Joe Lovano Quartet, and others, and wraps up tomorrow. For information, visit ExitZeroJazzFestival.com.
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