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
“While there does not appear to be a dictionary definition of jazz orchestra there is a definition of orchestral jazz as follows: ”the fusion of jazz’s rhythmic and instrumental characteristics with the scale and structure of an orchestra.” This description applies to The South Florida Jazz Orchestra and is embodied in their release Are We Still Dreaming—The Music of Gary Lindsay.
Each of the eight tracks is a long form composition with multi layered arrangements using a combination of Gary Lindsay originals along with material from both jazz and popular composers. Each of the eight tracks deserves some commentary because each has artistry, framework and coherence, but space constraints limit our remarks. But let’s start with a Gary Lindsay original “Moment In Time”. While neither a bossa nova or samba, the number has a Brazilian lilt and is structured to give trumpeter Alex Norris free rein for a decisive solo. When guitarist John Hart jumps in the Brazilian groove is more strikingly noted.
There are several vocal tracks on this disc, the first being a double shot “Spring Is Here/ Up Jumped Spring” featuring Julia Dollison and “Easy Living” with Nicole Yarling doing the honours. On the first, Dollison shows impressive vocal range and swings both numbers. The arrangement is built so that there is a some intricate contrapuntal exchanges between the orchestra and Dollison. On the vocal by Yarling, there is a relaxed down home groove, that also has a thick-toned trumpet solo from Greg Gisbert.
The remaining vocal is imbedded with the title track “Are We Still Dreaming” another Gary Lindsay original. Julia Dollison’s mostly wordless multi range vocal meanderings are blended with the orchestra with unexpected harmonic playfulness, and are sprinkled through the inventive Lindsay arrangement.
The final two cuts are by a couple of jazz’s most inventive composers. Firstly “‘Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk, and then Billy Strayhorn’s “UMMG” ( Upper Manhattan Medical Group). The former is framed by a dense arrangement along the lines favoured by the Stan Kenton Orchestra. There is a long angular tenor solo from Ed Calle riding over the band with the brass sections playing propulsive and abundant lines. The latter is rolled out on a strong piano solo from Martin Bejerano, after which the band picks up on the full palette of the number to give it compelling texture.
This a solid orchestra with a distinct and assured sound.”
TrackList: Moment In Time; Spring Is Here/Up Jumped Spring; Toward Hope; Easy Living; Better Days Ahead; Are We Still Dreaming; ‘Round Midnight; UMMG
— Audiophile Audition, Pierre Giroux
“…The perfect storm of performers and compositions/arrangements with excellent production from trombonist John Fedchock. Indeed all of The Music of Gary Lindsay: Are We Still Dreaming is a wonderful telling and/or retelling of a remarkable story—the story of Gary Lindsay, an excellent musician, an imaginative composer, and a gifted arranger. Chuck Bergeron and the South Florida Jazz Orchestra are just the ones to tell that amazing tale…”
-The Jazz Owl by Travis Rogers, Jr.
When a big band devotes an entire album to the compositions and arrangements of one musician, the obvious opening question is: why? In other words, who is Gary Lindsay and why is the South Florida Jazz Orchestra performing his music? In brief, the answer is that Lindsay, an alto saxophonist and well-respected educator, has written and arranged music for Maynard Ferguson, the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note and Florida Philharmonic, among others, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for arranging trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s 1992 album, I Remember Clifford (GRP). He is a professor at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and a member of the Miami Saxophone Quartet, hence the South Florida connection.
So much for the why. As to the outcome, it is by and large salutary. Certainly, Lindsay’s compositions and charts offer no cause for reproach. Nor does the SFJO, stocked as it is with a number of the most accomplished sidemen in the area alongside notable guest artists such as tenor Rick Margitza (“Toward Hope”), trumpeter Greg Gisbert(“Easy Living”), trombonist Dana Teboe and vocalist (and Frost School alum) Julia Dollison. Also on board are the other members of the MSQ: alto / soprano Gary Keller, tenor Ed Calle (featured on Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight”) and baritone Mike Brignola, a longtime member of the Woody Herman Orchestra. Bassist and SFJO founder Chuck Bergeron teaches at the Frost School, as does the outstanding guitarist John Hart (showcased on Lindsay’s “Moment in Time,” Pat Metheny’s “Better Days Ahead” and with Dollison and soprano Keller on “Are We Still Dreaming”).
“Moment in Time,” the Brazilian-styled opener that also spotlights trumpeter and Frost alum Alex Norris, is followed by Lindsay’s fluent amalgam of Rodgers and Hart’s “Spring Is Here” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring,” on which Dollison is heard for the first time. She seems to be a talented singer, although neither she nor the bluesy Nicole Yarling (“Easy Living”) is especially well-recorded (Dollison sings again on “Are We Still Dreaming”). Calle’s burnished tenor narrative on “‘Round Midnight,” clearly one of the album’s cornerstones, precedes the well-grooved finale, Billy Strayhorn’s “UMMG” (another high point), on which Jason Carder’s agile trumpet plays a prominent role. The rhythm section (Bergeron, Hart, pianist Martin Bejerano, drummer John Yarling) is laser-sharp here, as it is on every number.
Lindsay, who waited forty years to have an album devoted wholly to his music, must have been pleased by the result. The SFJO surely does its best to please, presenting Lindsay’s artistry in the best possible light. Together, they make a persuasive team.
Track Listing: Moment in Time; Spring Is Here / Up Jumped Spring; Toward Hope; Easy Living; Better Days Ahead; Are We Still Dreaming; ‘Round Midnight; UMMG (Upper Manhattan Medical Group).
Personnel: Chuck Bergeron: director, acoustic, electric bass; Gary Lindsay: composer, arranger, alto sax, clarinet; Augie Haas: trumpet; Jeff Kievit: trumpet; Greg Gisbert: trumpet; Jason Carder: trumpet; Alex Norris: trumpet; Peter Francis: trumpet; Gary Keller: alto, soprano sax, flute; Ed Calle: tenor sax, flute; Phil Doyle: tenor sax, flute; Jason Kush: tenor sax, flute; Mike Brignola: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Dana Teboe: trombone; Dante Luciani: trombone; John Kricker: trombone; Major Bailey: trombone; Derek Pyle: trombone; Andrew Peal: trombone; Martin Bejerano: acoustic, electric piano; John Hart: guitar; Ksenija Komljenovi: vibes, xylophone; Brian Potts: shaker, pandeiro; John Yarling: drums; Julia Dollison: vocals (2, 6); Nicole Yarling: vocal (4). Special guests – Richard Todd: French horn; Rick Margitza: tenor sax (3).
-AllAboutJazz.com by Jack Bowers
“Gary Lindsay is probably best known as a member of the Miami Saxophone Quartet [MSQ]. The MSQ is also on this date by THE SOUTH FLORIDA JAZZ ORCHESTRA [SFJO] and here they present THE MUSIC OF GARY LINDSAY: Are We Still Dreaming
[Summit Records dcd 728]. Lindsay only wrote 3 of the 8 tunes [68:41], but arranged them all. There is a particularly nice arrangement of “‘Round Midnight” featuring Ed Calle [ts] and a standout vocal by Julia Dollison on “Spring Is Here/Up Jumped Spring”. This un-dated session was under the direction of Chuck Bergeron.”
-Cadence Magazine by Robert Rusch