Lindsay’s arranging was in full swing long before that excellent album, however. He had arranged for big bands and has performed on alto saxophone for the biggest names you care to name—like Jaco Pastorius and the Brecker Brothers. His is also the director of the Master's in Music program in Studio/Jazz Writing and the Doctoral program in Jazz Composition at the University of Miami. It doesn’t get much better than that.
He also writes, arranges, and performs for the Miami Saxophone Quartet and the South Florida Jazz Orchestra. Enviable gigs, one and all.
Having released two previous albums, the South Florida Jazz Orchestra has now released The Music of Gary Lindsay: Are We Still Dreaming on Summit Records. It is the very first album dedicated entirely to Lindsay’s amazing big band arrangements and it includes some of South Florida’s hottest Jazz artists as well as those from New York. The album is the perfect storm of performers and compositions/arrangements with excellent production from trombonist John Fedchock.
Moment in Time is the lead-off number. It is an original by Lindsay himself and features a cool flugelhorn solo from New York’s Alex Norris. There is a definite Brazilian feel to the piece. Pay attention to the guitar work of John Hart. Moment in Time could very well be used by the Miami Tourism Bureau as a soundtrack to welcoming visitors to the Miami area. It is warm and sunny and lively, just like South Florida.
I confess. I say that as a native Florida boy raised in South Florida.
Spring is Here/Up Jumped Spring is a fantastic medley of Rodgers & Hart and Freddie Hubbard. It features Julia Dollison on vocals who can sweep the vocal spectrum with ease. Dante Luciani delivers a smoking trombone and Phil Doyle nails the tenor sax bit in the Hubbard section. As vibrant as the colors of Spring, the medley is splashed with multi-faceted hues of sound and lyric. The seamless transition from Rodgers to Hubbard is a moment to savor.
Toward Hope is the second original from Gary Lindsay. It has a slow, sweet introduction with Rick Margitza’s tenor sax playing over Martin Bejerano’s piano. It opens as a semi-classical piece that slowly evolves into large ensemble Jazz. I especially enjoy the way Margitza interweaves the counterpoint. This is beautifully written and exactingly performed.
Nicole Yarling is the guest vocalist on Easy Living, the 1937 standard by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin. It is full of imagery from languid life in the South and Yarling adds mightily to that feel. Her effortless scat and impassioned delivery are brilliant. Greg Gisbert has the trumpet solo and is just so very, very good.
John Yarling sits the drum throne and is impressive throughout. Give him a good listen and as well as director Chuck Bergeron on basses. This is a fine rhythm section. That carries well into Better Days Ahead where Bergeron and John Hart work the Pat Metheny tune so well.
Lindsay admits to being a Metheny fan and got to play the arrangement with Metheny when he performed at the university. Incidentally, Pat Metheny had the distinction of being the youngest instructor (age 18) at that illustrious Jazz school.
Are We Still Dreaming, the title song, once again features Julia Dollison with the wordless vocalizations and also once again guitarist John Hart. Gary Lindsay wrote the tune that was inspired by trumpet artist Kenny Wheeler. The dreamlike vocal impressions and Hart’s stirring guitar alongside Gary Keller’s sax leads are intoxicating. There is a good reason this is the title track. Just wonderful.
The album closes with two tracks set at a high bar. ‘Round Midnight and UMMG.
Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight was arranged by Lindsay in 1977 as a master’s degree project and was inspired by the Stan Kenton style. You can hear it, too. Latin Grammy Award-winner Ed Calle is the featured soloist on sax. It is amazingly delivered by Calle and the arrangement is wonderful. I loved this.
Billy Strayhorn’s UMMG (Upper Manhattan Medical Group) works on so many levels. It is faithful to the Strayhorn original but it carries a unique voice of its own. Four artists are featured on UMMG: Mike Brignola on baritone sax and Major Bailey on bass trombone, pianist Martin Bejerano and trumpet master Jason Carder. Each one deserves the spotlight. Lindsay’s arrangement of UMMG is an exquisite retelling of the Strayhorn story.
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.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl