Directed by Chuck Bergeron, the return of the 20+ member SFJO performing w/ exquisite vocalists on the first full big band recording of tunes from Gary Lindsay’s (a University of Miami Music School legend) composing and arranging vault in over 40 years of vast experiences. Led by jazz veteran, Chuck Bergeron, an amazing mix of “out of towners” joined members of the SFJO
Featuring: Nicole Yarling, Julia Dollison and John Hart
ABOUT THE MUSIC…
MOMENT IN TIME: I wrote this Brazilian-influenced composition a few years back to feature trumpeter Alex Norris, who was a DMA student in the Frost School at the time. Alex shines on this updated version. Also featured is my colleague from Frost School of Music, the great guitar- ist John Hart. Frost alum Brian Potts is heard on pandeiro complementing the groove.
SPRING IS HERE / UP JUMPED SPRING: Written to exemplify the colors of spring, this medley features Julia Dollison, an enormously gifted singer with the vocal flexibility of a gym- nast. Lightness, fluidity, swing and bold brass represent some musical elements integral to this chart, along with great solos by Dante Luciani (tbn), Julia Dollison and Phil Doyle (tenor).
TOWARD HOPE: This original was written just before the sessions in 2017. After the slow introduction, the soprano saxophone plays the opening motive accompanied by a piano ostinato. The piece slowly evolves from classical roots to chamber jazz. Rick Margitza is featured on tenor saxophone in acrobatic flight. Interweaving lines of counterpoint and countermelodies add to the momentum. Hope is an island in Rhode Island, but this title may mean something else to you.
EASY LIVING: I was inspired by the opportunity to accompany Nicole Yarling on this classic. She is a true jazz singer who can scat with a soulful lack of inhibition. This arrangement borrows from Duke Ellington’s “jungle music,” with its cast of musical characters and features Greg Gisbert (oneof New York’s finest) on trumpet.
BETTER DAYS AHEAD: From Pat Metheny’s catalogue, this arrangement features colleagues John Hart on guitar and Chuck Bergeron on electric bass. Soprano sax and flugelhorn double the lead on a saxophone soli with a tip of the hat to Thad Jones.
ARE WE STILL DREAMING: This original was inspired by a guest appearance by Kenny Wheeler at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Julia Dollison was featured, along with Kenny and the Frost Concert Jazz Band (directed by Whit Sidener) in Kenny’s concert, so it was only natural to include her on my tribute composition. Her voice blends beautifully with members of the ensemble. John Hart, along with my longtime friend and colleague Gary Keller, play beautiful solos.
‘ROUND MIDNIGHT: Inspired by the Stan Kenton sound, I performed this arrangement on my masters’ recital in 1978. Here I feature one of the foremost voices on saxophone – Ed Calle – with a soulful rendition.
UMMG: Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn are important influences on my music; so this Strayhorn composition was a natural choice for this CD. Two master musicians, Mike Brignola (bari sax) and Major Bailey (bass trombone), are featured on the theme. Solos by superb pianist and colleague Martin Bejerano and longtime friend trumpet virtuoso Jason Carder add to the substantial written counterpoint.
“Yes, Virginia, there are still players out there that are putting art first. The Grammy nommed arranger corrals the South Florida Jazz Orchestra for a non stop set of pristine big band arrangements that are full blooded and lively making listening a delight. Certainly never to be mistaken for muzak, this instrumental set takes art to the next level of the game but is never work to listen to. An uncut set full of the real deal.”
-Midwest Record by Chris Spector
I don’t know if a lot of people think of Florida as a hot bed for current big band activity, but with Micah Bethea having just released another excellent album in the Jacksonville area, followed quickly by this set out of the Miami area by The South Florida Jazz Orchestra, its starting to look like Florida could become known for more than just alligators, mosquitoes and shirtless guys with mullets. The truth is, Miami has had a very active jazz scene for a long time now, and has contributed many major players to the jazz world. One such local star is saxophonist Gary Lindsay, who arranged all of the music on “The Music of Gary Lindsay: Are We Still Dreaming”, hence the CD title of course, and Gary also composed several of the numbers as well. The big band assembled here is top notch with many in-demand New York and Miami session musicians taking up the chairs.
The music on here strikes an interesting variety. Three cuts utilize vocalists; Nicole Yarling’s “Easy Living” hits a slinky groove that‘s perfect for the lyrics, and Julia Dollison’s wordless vocals add much to the ethereal Lindsay original, “Are We Still Dreaming”. Julia also sings a high energy medley of two standards as well. Other covers include fairly straight ahead readings of “Round Midnight” and Pat Metheny’s “Better Days Ahead”, plus a far more creative rendition of Strayhorn’s “Upper Manhattan Medical Group”, titled “UMGG” on here. The best tracks though, are the Lindsay originals, such as the aforementioned “…Dreaming”, and the classically influenced “Toward Hope”. These two in particular allow Lindsay to portray how he uses the various voices in the band to intertwine melodies in infinite kaleidoscope variations. “The Music of Gary Lindsay: Are We Still Dreaming” is a worthwhile listen for anyone interested in contemporary big band music, or jazz in general, there is plenty of room for soloists in these arrangements.
-John Sanders for Jazz Music Archives
“…If this big band recording is remarkable for one thing, it’s the ease in which the scope of the music expands and contracts… It’s the sheer audacity of quiet moments in a big band setting, engineered by Lindsay, that makes this recording so unique…”
-The Vinyl Anachronist by Marc Phillips