132 Recommend It!

Michael Lington: Pure (2012)

By Published: | 6,784 views
Michael Lington: Pure Here is a disclaimer: Michael Lington plays alto and tenor saxophone, and the saxophone is the dominant instrument of the smooth jazz genre, every bit as much the electric guitar is the dominant instrument of rock 'n' roll. This means Lington is trying to stand out in an extremely crowded field.

So what is it about Lington that makes him distinctive and unique compared to Eric Marienthal
Eric Marienthal
Eric Marienthal
b.1957
saxophone
, Euge Groove, Marion Meadows
Marion Meadows
Marion Meadows

saxophone
, Kim Waters, Jeff Kashiwa
Jeff Kashiwa
Jeff Kashiwa

saxophone
, Boney James, Dave Koz
Dave Koz
Dave Koz

saxophone
, Mindi Abair
Mindi Abair
Mindi Abair
b.1969
saxophone
or Walter Beasley? Nothing much, and that is an observation, not a criticism. Lington does not distinguish himself from the pack because he plays it right down the middle.

Everything that's expected in this sort of instrumental pop music is in abundance on Pure. The playing is professional, the collective sound matters more than the individual solos, the production is slick, clean and polished to a sheen, and with only one tune clocking in over five minutes in length, nothing lasts long enough to become particularly annoying—or involving.

An example of how safe as milk Lington plays it is his throwaway take on Bill Withers' "Lovely Day." It's a perfectly okay version, but what made the original distinctive was the point where Withers holds a note for a jaw-dropping 18 seconds. The saxophone gives Lington the power to approximate the human voice, but does he try to blow and hold a note like Withers? He does not—as if going for the same soaring grandeur Withers achieved might tamper with the relentless smooth groove.

When Lington allows himself to jam he's pretty good at it. Jeff Golub
Jeff Golub
Jeff Golub
b.1955
guitar
's guitar jumpstarts "Playtime," and the middle section of Pure gets on the good foot from there until the energy flags at the end. If you're going to tackle a classic like Jr. Walker's "Shotgun" you had better be willing to step your game up and Lington does overcoming a wobbly vocal from '90s blue-eyed soul belter Michael Bolton. Bolton's upper register has pretty much gone A.W.O.L, but Lington's sax fills in the patches.

The musicians surrounding Lington are uniformly good and the guest appearances from Golub, Lee Ritenour
Lee Ritenour
Lee Ritenour
b.1952
guitar
, Jonathan Butler and Brian Culbertson
Brian Culbertson
Brian Culbertson
b.1973
keyboard
, among others, stay within the lines of the overall production. Lington makes no obvious missteps in the choice of cover tunes, and the originals make for perfectly satisfactory listening even if nothing memorable ever happens.

Lington knows what his audience wants and Pure delivers the jazzy, if not the hardcore jazz.


Track Listing: Roadtrip; The Serenade; Playtime; Lower East Side; Shotgun; Like Old Times; Movin' On; Come On Over; A Simpler Time

Personnel: Michael Lington: alto and tenor saxophone, horn arrangement; Lee Ritenour: guitar (1); Oscar Seaton (1, 6): drums; Smitty Smith: bass (1, 6); Brian Culbertson: keyboards (1, 6); Ray Parker, Jr.: guitars (1, 6); Jeff Babko: Hammond B3, Wurlitzer, clavinet (4, 9, 10); Michael Stever: trumpet and horn arrangement (1, 3-5, 8); Michael Brioni: trombone (1, 3-5, 8); Torcuato Mariano: acoustic guitar (2); Teddy Campbell: drums (2, 5, 7); Ricky Minor: bass (2, 5, 7); David Delhomme: Rhodes and Hammond B3 (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Michael Broening: additional keyboards (2, 5, 8); Rex Hardy: drums (3, 8); Ricky Minor: bass (3, 8); Paul Jackson, Jr.: electric guitar (3, 5, 7, 8); Jeff Golub: guitar solo (3); Victor Indizzo: drums (4, 9, 10); Kaveh Rastegar: bass (4, 9, 10); Chris Bruce: guitar (4, 9, 10); Michael Bolton: vocals (5); Michael Thompson: electric guitars (5); Janey Clewer: vocals (6); Sheldon Reynolds: vocals (6); Tollak Oliestad: harmonica (7, 9); Thano Sahnas: acoustic guitar (7); Kenya Hathaway: vocals (7); Cameron Harder-Handel: trumpet(9); Jonathan Butler: acoustic guitar (10)

Record Label: Trippin n Rhythm Records


comments powered by Disqus

Weekly Giveaways

Roscoe Mitchell

Roscoe Mitchell

About | Enter

Peter Lerner

Peter Lerner

About | Enter

Jamie Saft

Jamie Saft

About | Enter

Sun Trio

Sun Trio

About | Enter

Sponsor: Nonesuch Records