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  • Smooth Jazz Network

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 “Moon Goddess” has made it to the TOP 5 on the smooth jazz top 20 chart this past week! We recently caught up with the talented saxophonist aboard the dave Koz Cruise.

Michael, Thanks so much for taking some time with us! The new single “Moon Goddess” is really getting a lot of radio airplay and has been TOP 5 on our chart for a few weeks now. The tune is a nice tip of the hat to a classic tune. Tell us how that came about.

Thanks Allen, yes Sun Goddess. Well, it was the last song I wrote and recorded for my new EP. For the whole project I wanted to get in touch with the music that inspired me to play music in the first place and pursue a career as a saxophonist. I’m talking about those early amazing contemporary jazz albums like a Bob James, Grover, Sanborn and Ramsey Lewis.

And you wrote the tune with David Mann.

Yes, so to finish the EP I had this idea to call David Mann who I have known for a very long time but never worked with. I’m such a big fan of his talents and was interested in seeing what a collaboration could produce. He sent me a few ideas and one of them was Moon Goddess in a very early stage. We wrote some more sections and flipped some things around and then started to discuss what instruments and players we wanted to have on it! I loved the experience working with him.

And Paul Jackson Jr on that cool guitar groove…

Yes yes and yes! Paul is my go-to guy! I love what he brings to the table, Always! He has been on my last 7 or 8 albums I think. Always unique, always on point! As a little side note, that funky guitar riff on the song was actually created by David Mann but played by Paul.

You’ve also just released your new EP “Looking Ahead”. Tell our readers about the project.

It really is a special album for me because it reflects a lot of changes in my life, and the music is a product of that. It took me 3 years to complete and each song represents a different stage of those changes, turning 50 years old, getting married, becoming a dad at 51, moving to Carlsbad, CA after 32 years in LA and of course navigating the challenges of a global pandemic.

You mentioned some of the artists here on the Dave Koz Cruise that you have worked with in the past. Can you share some of those experiences?

Yes, I have worked with many of the artists on the cruise. Jonathan Butler and I recorded on each others albums, Vincent Ingala and I toured together with our Sax To The Max tour, and Ray Parker Jr and I are very good friends and have both toured together and he has played on many albums. As the matter of fact we wrote a really fun song called “Wooh” for one of my albums - I remember him showing up at my house for the writing session in a convertible car with a guitar in the passenger seat, sticking out of the car …no case just the guitar and he lived over an hour away and had to get on the freeway haha!

Then of course there is Dave Koz, he is my longest friend, we have known each other for over 32 years! We have worked together on so many projects both in the studio and live and I made 2 albums for his record label, Rendezvous.

During the cruise you hosted a Cigar club gathering. How did you get into cigars and what should we know about them?

The cigar thing was Dave Koz’ idea (even though he doesn’t remember haha) he knew I liked cigars and on the first Koz cruise I was a part of in 2006, he suggested I host a cigar event, another way to connect with my fans besides music. I did take it to another level when I came up with the idea of creating my own brand of cigars.

You are great at getting your message and music out to the world via the internet. Tell us about your Live stream on June 4th and your ‘StageIt’ series.

Thank you, well during the pandemic when I couldn’t tour I created a livestream series on a platform called StageIt! I did a show every Sunday and it was so meaningful to be able to connect with my audience in such an intimate way! I constantly hear from the fans how important this show was for them because everyone was quarantined and couldn’t go anywhere so at least they had me to entertain and talk to them during this difficult period. I also felt so uplifted after each of these sessions. I continued to build it and also improve it technically and now I have moving hi def cameras, I do duets with other artists and have a smoke machine haha!! I still do about one every month.

Tell us about your international tour this summer.

A lot of dates everywhere, Mexico, Napa Valley, Florida, Virginia, Phoenix, Southern California, Chicago, and much more. In July I’ll be in Budapest, Hungary and at a great Jazz club in London called Pizza Express.

Plans for 2024 yet?

A few ideas on the table but nothing has been decided yet.

Learn more on his website, here.

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