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Michael Lington: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Michael Lington.


Michael Lington’s new single “Play” is currently climbing the Smooth Jazz Charts and this past week we were able to grab a few moments with the talented saxophonist.

Michael, Thanks so much for taking some time with us! The new single “Play” has been one of the summer’s hottest tracks and is steadily moving up the national charts. How did this single come about?

Thanks so much, yes it’s been a fun ride so far. It started with a phone call to my buddy Darren Rahn and a chat about what kind of song I would like to write with him. It had been a few years since I had released new original music and I wanted to create a song that had great energy and melody but also had a classic funk/r&b feel to it. He sent me an idea, I loved it and we finished writing it. What’s interesting is that it started a little more electronic sounding but as we continued to tweak the song, I had such a strong feeling to move it to a more organic sound and replace the programmed elements with live musicians.


And you brought in a couple of heavy hitters… Darren Rahn and Paul Jackson Jr.

Yes Darren (Rahn) and I have known each other for a very long time but never collaborated. He’s such a talented producer, writer and musician and it was such a great fit to collaborate on this song. Paul Jackson Jr and I have worked together a lot through the years, live and on records. Paul have played on my albums since 2001 and I love his playing so much. He has a unique ability to create guitar hooks on songs, where I could never imagine NOT having his part on the song, as important to me as the melody!


Not to mention your rhythm section -Mel Brown on bass and Tarell Martin on drums!

Terrell and Mel are Darren’s go-to guys, and for good reason! They are amazing and groove so well together!


Hard to believe you have been doing this for 25+ years now! How has the process of releasing new music changed for you?

Yes it’s true, my first album came out in 1997, where did the time go? Everything is different now with releasing music and it’s constantly changing. I was signed to labels for many years, now I release the music on my own (with The Orchard/Sony as my distribution partners) Obviously CD’s are a bit of a novelty and streaming has become a preferred method of consuming music. In some ways I like it better now as it’s easier to reach a worldwide audience but in other ways, I miss the old days a little. It’s become easier to release music yourself but it’s much harder to monetize because CD’s sales have been replaced by streaming.


And the past two years have been different for all of us.

Well, it was certainly a difficult time for all of us, but I was lucky to have found a silver lining; I became a dad to my son Landon, got married, moved from Los Angeles to Carlsbad, CA, started a livestream series on a platform called Stageit (have done over 75 ticketed shows) winning an award for most innovative online artist and releasing my Alone Together, The duets album! A unique time for sure but productive.


You’re a new dad as well?

When I met my wife Keri, she had a two year old daughter and then we had our son in 2020. Becoming a dad have made me a more balanced person and opened up an additional life experience. As folks with kids already know, It can be hard and challenging at times but the unconditional love you experience and receive, surpasses any challenges you may have. Being a dad is the best gig in the world!


How is your radio host gig going?

I’m loving it! It’s a new muscle for me to work out and I always wanted to do something like that. I’m grateful to smoothjazz247 and Jimi King for giving me the opportunity.


And the full EP is coming soon?

Soon, we still want to release another single before it comes out so we are currently scheduling all of that.


I love that PIC of you swinging your sax like a baseball bat… I hope you hit this one out of the park!

Aww thanks so much! I tried to match my picture to the energy of the new music!


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