Michael Lington took the stage with Dave Koz, Melissa Manchester, Jonathan Butler and other great musicians. Dianemarie Collins managed to catch up with Michael backstage at the After Party where she was able to talk with the jazz saxman we have known for 20 years. We shot this on our iPhone, so pardon the background noise, but the content of the interview is excellent. Enjoy!
A year ago saxophonist Michael Lington was celebrating Christmas in Barbados when he was blown away by a local band that incorporated traditional and contemporary Christmas songs.
So being the intuitive artist that the Copenhagen born/L.A. based is, Michael loved the idea of fusing all these different elements together. Why not mix his European background with Cuban, Jazz, R&B and Gospel into his his first Christmas album!
The celebrations begins on the opening number – George Michael’s ‘Last Christmas’ with the help of good friend guitarist Marc Antoine who gives it a foreign twist with it’s beautiful arrangement of sax, vibraphone from Philippe Saisse and percussion by Luis Conte.
Donny Hathaway’s 1970 holiday favorite ‘This Christmas’ features singer Vince Gill and stays true to the original with it’s lush arrangements by keyboardist Greg Phillinganes and Lington, Gill’s guitar and horns by Nick Daley(trombone) and Michael Stever (trumpet).
As one of the guests on the Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour this month Michael had to request Dave’s invigorating sax playing on the Christmas classics ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Let It Snow’ for a medley. Dave’s soprano sax and Michael’s alto and tenor sax are a match made in heaven.
Other guests joining the party are guitarists Chris Standing on ‘Silver Bells’, Adam Hawley on the European traditional ‘A Child Is Born in Bethlehem’ with a contemporary arrangement by Michael and L.A. based keyboardist Hans Zermuehlen and keyboardist David Garfield (George Benson’s musical director).
Singer Shelea brings out the best of her Whitney Houston musical inspiration on the 1944 Judy Garland classic from the motion picture ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ on ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ with Lington’s killer band of Eric Valentine (drums), Alex Al (bass), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards) and even Paul Jackson Jr. guests on guitar for a joyful rendition.
It took Michael 20 years to figure out what kind of sound he wanted for his first Christmas album and we didn’t mind waiting. It’s elegant and classy – just the way we like it at this time of year. Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for listening!