Home Grown Jazz Talent


It’s always exciting when hometown kids make good in the music business. Many a Princeton kid has gone on to jazz or rock fame, often from the legendary Princeton High School Studio Band.

Wendy Zoffer, a musician whom I met through the Princeton chamber, wrote to tell that her son (Dylan Cohen, lead guitarist of Mad Cats and Beehives) just finished a gig at the Stone Pony and their next will be at Finnegans on February 20. He’s a senior at West Windsor-Plainsboro South. Also in the rock band are Keith Lalley, (trombone/vocals), Meggen Greenberg (bass), and Mike Cintron (drums).

Then I heard that Jesse Fischer is bringing his Brooklyn-based band, Soul Cycle, to Small World on Friday, January 29 to play what is billed as “an infectious blend of jazz, funk, and world music.” I know Jesse through his brother, Ezra, who worked at U.S. 1 for awhile. Both their parents (Ilene Levine and Richard Fischer) are teachers, he at Princeton Friends School, she at Roosevelt Public School.

Jesse Fischer has been performing at Small World, in various bands, for 15 years. While at Princeton High School, Fischer played with the Studio Band for all four years, 1994 to 1998, under the leadership of the late Tony Biancosino. “Dr. B was a huge influence on me,” says Fischer, “in terms of leadership style and musicality.” Fischer also studied jazz piano with Princeton-area teacher Laurie Altman and with Stanley Cowell at Mason Gross School of the Arts, but considers himself mostly self taught.

His current band includes sax player Brian Hogans, bassist Josh David, percussionist Shawn Banks, and drummer Corey Rawls. Rawls also teaches privately in the Princeton area. They just finished their third CD, Mosaic, described as capturing “the intimate energy of a live performance, resulting in honest music that ranges broadly from contemplative to joyous, from searching to playful. Overflowing with memorable compositions, dynamic group interplay, and raw soul, Mosaic is a bold statement in support of real music.”

I was interested in his account of a typical work weekend: a singer- songwriter showcase Friday evening, a late set with an R&B; cover band Friday night, a bar mitzvah Saturday morning, a jazz gig Saturday night, sit in with an African band after-hours, and then play in church Sunday morning.” He created his latest CD to reflect this mix.

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