November 11, 2008

Michael Lington - Heat

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Saxophonist Michael Lington has been a force in contemporary jazz since the 1997 release of his eponymous debut on NuGroove Records. Since then his stature has continued to rise, first with the 2002 project (and his only recording on Marcus Johnson’s Three Keys label) Everything Must Change and again during his tenure at Rendezvous with Stay With Me and A Song For You in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Along the way the debut album has been re-released twice, in 2001 on Samson and then again in 2003 on the Copenhagen label. Now Lington has come full circle by reconnecting with David Chackler and the resurgent nuGroove Records for his brand new CD Heat.

A native of Denmark, Michael Lington is the grandson of well-known Danish band leader Otto Lington who was an early proponent of jazz in Scandinavia. Michael began his performing career as a member of the world-renowned Tivoli Boys Guard and, after completing a degree in music, managed his own recording studio. After touring regularly throughout Europe he relocated to Los Angeles in 1990 and with the assistance of producer Mark Schulman quickly became part of the then emerging smooth jazz scene. Lington is and always has been a tremendous live player. Early opportunities in this respect came when he joined Bobby Caldwell’s renowned touring band and most recently he has performed as part of the sold out, coast to coast Barry Manilow tour. As Manilow himself puts it "Michael Lington is one hell of a sax player. He absolutely brought down the house every night on my arena tour."

Heat is right up there with Lington’s best work and totally in sync with the high quality music that nuGroove routinely delivers. It kicks off with the powerful and uplifting ‘You And I’ that is currently making its mark on the chart of most played on smooth jazz radio across the USA but quickly relaxes into the melodic ‘Chuva’. In fact the contrast between these two tracks is a metaphor for the entire collection. Up tempo grooves such as the thumping ‘Memphis’ blend delightfully with more turned down numbers of which ‘Ladyland’ is a great example. ‘Ocean Drive’ is another knockout illustration of Lington’s strident playing while ‘Angelina’, with a stunningly beautiful piano intro from Greg Phillinganes, quickly morphs into more of Lington’s compelling virtuosity. His faithful rendition of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ finds American Idol’s Ace Young delivering a more than credible vocal while it’s the unmistakable voice of Aaron Neville that lights up the emotionally charged ‘That’s When You Save Me’.

The expansive ‘Nostalgia’ provides a fittingly grandiose end to a remarkable body of work but a Secret Garden favorite remains ‘Shout About Ya’ that, complete with a pop tinged vocal from Keely Hawkes, is so infectious it hurts.

For more visit Michael’s website at www.michaellington.com

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at November 11, 2008 5:48 PM