The finest new orchestral jazz album I've heard this year is Steve Lindeman's The Day After Yesterday (Jazz Hang). The intelligence of the compositions and arrangements can only be described as breathtaking. The melodies and harmonies are tender and braided beautifully, and the one vocal track is splendidly executed, with overdubbing that rivals the Singers Unlimited—without the sticky commercial aftertaste.
This album's genesis has quite a story. In 2008, Steve Lindeman applied to attend the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in New York. Though Lindeman lives in Utah and is a professor of music theory at Brigham Young University, his daughter lives in Brooklyn, which enabled him to meet the Workshop's stringent attendance rules—up to three meetings a month for nine months over the course of three years.
During that period, Lindeman wrote the music on this CD. When it was completed, he put the arrangement in front of BYU Synthesis [pictured above]—an 18-piece band directed BYU's Ray Smith. There also are two special guests—vocalist Kelly Eisenhour and tuba player Steve Call—as well as a micro unit of four instrumental specialists known as Q'd Up. Lindeman plays the Hammond organ.
Lindeman's music and arrangements are gentle and cinematic—setting scenes and creating moods with soft, dramatic flare. Best of all, Lindeman [pictured above] knows how to bring sections in and out or let them linger and overlap for suspense or complexity. I also adore the overall smoothness and conversational quality of the instrumental textures. It's like having a mink glove brushed across your ear. There's a summery feel about the entire album—the slow sunrise, the scents, the broiling intensity and cool evenings.
This is a perfectly envisioned and executed album—without a single note of disappointment. Every song provides maximum delight to the ear, giving the sophisticated listener plenty to latch onto. Lindeman's taste is remarkable. It's impossible to sample any track from this album and not be disappointed when the 30-second clip ends. [Pictured: Kelly Eisenhour]
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Steve Lindeman's The Day After Yesterday (Jazz Hang) here.
JazzWax clip: Here's BYU Synthesis playing Long Gone...