It was many years ago when the musical seeds were planted in the Lington family. Michael’s grandfather and band leader Otto Lington had long been called upon to play with jazz greats on tour in Europe or at Tivoli Garden. It was often Otto Lington’s band who played with Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker and Fats Waller when they came to Denmark. Michael himself later went on to perform at Tivoli Garden with the famed Tivoli Boys Guard, a prestigious group of young, talented musicians. The boys who ranged in age from 9 to16 were schooled, trained and groomed for performances at Tivoli Garden as they still are today.
Now Lington has been in the US for 12 years and enjoys the respect and recognition from other contemporary pop and jazz players in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, he possesses a keen sense of the inner workings of the music business while remaining true to his music.
Let me tell you how I came to know you first. You should find it interesting as I’m an admirer of your playing, not only an interviewer. I was listening to smooth jazz radio here in Philly. This goes back to when you first came out with Harlem Nocturne. They had it in heavy rotation on WJJZ at that point. I just dug your sound! I come out of the David Sanborn/Michael Brecker school of playing. Whenever I hear that influence, it makes my ears perk up. So I heard you playing and recognized the tune and decided to transcribe it. It took me about a week to catch it and record it on tape. The recording off the radio wasn’t great due to the bad reception so I bought the CD. That’s when I read the credits and found that our mutual friend and keyboardist Frank Strauss had arranging credits and played in the studio on that cut. More rececntly Frank was nice enough to put me in touch with you for this interview. That same transcription is posted on my website, SaxShed.com and lots of people seem to be downloading it. It’s very popular. People love to play that tune. I also use that transcription in teaching students how to play pop, smooth jazz and R&B.
That’s very flattering.
You’ve got a new release coming out on October 22nd. Tell me about the new CD “Everything Must Change”.
Well, the CD was actually started for my old label but they are not doing any music at all. A few months later they decided they were not going to produce any jazz any longer. We had already gone so far with it that it was virtually finished. Based on the success of the last album and the new material, we got another recording contract and finished the album with the new label. It’s a very exiting project. I’m working with some of the people that are the top performers, producers and songwriters in this format.
Some big names in contemporary jazz – Brian Culbertson, Jeff Lorber, Ricky Lawson and Ricky Peterson.
Brian and I wrote two songs together and he produced them. Ricky Lawson and Ricky Peterson played on a couple songs. Paul Jackson Jr. played on about six tracks. Ray Karoukus and I wrote and produced a song together. Sam Perkins and I wrote and produced a song together. He did two records with Warren Hill and the last couple records with Four Play. There’s some really great stuff and some of it is a little “off the beaten path.”
In what way?
It’s just the vibe. It’s not your regular R&B, in-your-face groove. It’s a more dreamy kind of thing…I’m very proud of that song. Elements of Bruce Hornsby…of course Jeff Lorber always adds his thing to it. The song I wrote with Sam Perkins is like “Twice in a Lifetime” from my last album…where the melody is really strog. I really like it. Nathan East plays bass on it. The variety and ifluences of several producers on this album is really nice.
….YOU CAN READ THIS COMPLETE INTERVIEW IN MARCH/APRIL 2003 ISSUE OF SAXOPHONE JOURNAL. Contact dornpub.com for subscription information.
Used by permission.
© 2003 by Dorn Publications, Inc.
March/April 2003, Vol. 27, No. 3