In 2005, while working his “day job” at XM Satellite Radio as Director of Information Technology, Alvin Fisher was invited by a host of his musical friends to strut his musical stuff and play his flute before hundreds of people on a popular Smooth Jazz Cruise. All but stealing the show from A-list headliners Norman Brown, Michael Manson, Bobby Lyle, Candy Dulfer, Nick Colionne and Brian Culbertson, the Washington, DC born and raised musician rediscovered the early musical dreams he set aside when he launched a successful 30-year career as an IT manager.
Focused full time on his musical career since leaving XM in 2010, Fisher is gearing up to book local and regional gigs, then hit the road with an exciting new band of top DC musicians --including his son, Alvin Fisher II (guitar), who has played for the Howard University Rankin Chapel Sunday Services in Washington D.C., and played lead guitar for the University of Maryland Gospel Choir while in college, and is also an in-demand studio session musician. Jamal Norwood (bass), a graduate of Hampton University where he studied Music Production, he has been playing keyboards since he was a little kid. He picked up the bass guitar as a teenager and continues to play both instruments. Jamal and Alvin II have been friends since they were babies. They started playing together as students attending the same grade school all the way through High school. Fisher Sr. loves having his "Boys" playing in the band with him. Another one of his "Boys" is, Jon Lewis (drums, a fresh new face on the scene, has been playing all styles of music from jazz, R&B, funk and rock. Jon is a graduate of The University of the District of Columbia where he studied music for a career as a music teacher. Michael Brookins (keyboards) has provided 25 years of music ministry in Chicago and the Washington metropolitan areas. He has been engaged in cross-cultural music ministries which included Spanish and Haitian speaking congregations, while also involved in the formation of several local bands which play a gospel/jazz fusion style.
“The good part about taking my 30 year detour into the world of IT is that I can now afford to produce and record my own music,” he says. “The flute is a beautiful, melodic instrument that has been part of the pop and jazz landscape for many decades. When I studied music, I listened to people like Frank Wess, who introduced the flute in a jazz context in the 1940s. I played bass as a teenager but something brought me back to the flute. No one was more influential in my development than the great Herbie Mann.” He adds, “When I left XM after working nine years as Director of the IT department, I was asked to co-host a political show on one of the shows called ‘Make It Plain with Mark Thompson.’ I did a nice tribute on the air to Herbie during that time, based on his classic song ‘Memphis Underground.’ It’s such a privilege to pay homage to legends of the instrument like him and Bobbi Humphrey.” His earliest childhood musical inspirations include legends Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
Although his chosen instrument has not been a huge force on contemporary jazz radio in recent years, Fisher’s easy grooving cover of the Delfonics’ “La La (Means I Love You)” made a splash in 2008 on numerous independent stations (particularly in the Southern U.S.) and was played on XM’s The Groove channel while selling several thousand units. Fisher is friends with Delfonics lead singer William “Poogie” Hart, who loved the track and said it was one of the best versions of the song he had ever heard. “La La (Means I Love You)” will appear on Fisher’s full-length debut album Absoflutely (produced by Traviso Milner).
Fusing numerous styles, from smooth and straight-ahead jazz to pop, R&B and funk, Fisher’s set list will feature numerous originals as well as soul classics like “Lovely Day”, “People Make The World Go Round”, “Alfie”, “Summertime”, “Harlem River Drive” by jazz/funk flutist Bobbi Humphrey as well as the band’s own originals. Fisher was recently invited to NYC to play the “Harlem River Drive” at a tribute to Humphrey, who joined him onstage for a rousing dual rendition. For Fisher, working full time with a powerful band takes him back to his late teens when he played with various DC musicians who became local and national music legends and in a local group that charted on Billboard.
After making a splash on the 2005 Smooth Jazz All-Star Cruise, Fisher was asked back for several future runs of this event. In helping promote the annual events, he performed at the Old Pasadena Jazz Festival, the House of Blues in Chicago and The Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, PA. He has also played on the Capital Jazz Cruise. Before starting his band, Fisher and his son, guitarist Alvin Fisher II, had been playing professionally as a duo. In 2009, they played at a University of Maryland ball in honor of President Obama’s inauguration. Also that year, they were the opening act at the Blair Mansion in Silver Spring, MD., for Acoustic Alchemy at a memorial concert for his friend and drummer Gregory Grainger’s daughter Dianne Grainger who passed away. Fisher has played straight ahead jazz with guitarist Cliff Richmond in Nashville, trumpeter Danny Harper in Atlanta and drummer Vince Lateano in San Francisco—all great musicians who are very well respected in the industry. Fisher also recently played with popular smooth jazz guitarist Drew Davidsen at the legendary Blues Alley club in Washington, DC.
FROM THE BEGINNING
Alvin Fisher, Sr. has successfully merged his two passions – information technology and music – into a career that began as a teenage musician and emerged into directing the XM satellite radio infrastructure as an information technology manager. He has also worked as a Network Operations Senior Manager for Discovery Communications, Inc in Silver Spring, Maryland; as an enterprise consultant for Planning Technologies in McLean, VA; a Manager of Network Operations for BTG, Inc. in Fairfax, VA; and a Network Operations Manager for MCI, in Virginia.
Fisher graduated from HD Woodson High School in Washington D.C. and attended Prince Georges Community College where he earned certifications in business management and information technology. He also has a Bachelors Degree in Information Technology from Rochville University. He is the father of two adult children, Alvin II and Christina, son-in-law, Jerry, and four grandchildren. He lives with his wife, Cheryl, in Upper Marlboro, MD.