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.
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).
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; Dante Luciani: trombone; John Kricker: 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).