Unable to hit the road over the past year due to pandemic-related lockdowns, over the past year, many smooth jazz artists have taken advantage of streaming technology to keep the music flowing for fans. Few have raised it to the high tech level of engagement of saxophonist Michael Lington, who quickly turned his home studio into one of the genre’s premiere virtual performance destinations, with a popular ongoing series of weekly shows on the StageIt platform.
Week after week, Lington and an incredible array of high profile guest vocal and instrumental artists from the worlds of jazz, R&B and even country (Javier Colon, Kenny Lattimore, Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Boney James, Sy Smith, Nick Colionne, Dorian Holley) appeared on a cleanly but often color and lighting coordinated split screen, jamming together on mostly familiar but a few coolly obscure gems from Lington’s two decade plus discography.
During this era of collective anxiety, his shows were a fun and engaging respite from the day to day , a reminder that while COVID-19 wreaked havoc with our health, the economy and our normal lives, it couldn’t stop the joyful flow of creativity.
For those who caught one, a few or all of these Lington jams on StageIT, but especially for those who haven’t yet partaken, the saxophonist’s dynamic new (and perfectly titled!) collection Alone Together: The Duets is the perfect way to sample the pin drop perfect audio portion of what Lington and friends have been up to.
This includes inspired, organic re-imaginings of everything from an amped up “Baker Street” (with Colon) and sensual “Everything Must Change” (with Walker), to the bluesy, funked out “Roadtrip” (with Colionne), a slammin’ high octane “Slick” (with Culbertson) and the heartfelt “You’ve Got a Friend” (with Dean). The highlights on this set go on and on, and with any luck, the saxophonist will have enough materail to grace us with a Vol. 2 in the months to come.
An exrraordinary album that truly, to quote a prior Lington album title, offers a beautiful musical Silver Lining during a challenging time, Alone Together: The Duets is testament not only to Lington's resourcefulness as he tried to keep personally creative and stay in touch with fans. - but also to the groovin' spontaneity and magic that can happen when great artists get together with common purpose and in the service of transcending obstacles and keeping their joyful music flowing. Though in years ahead, these performances may remind us of a difficult era in our lives, we'll no doubt remember the unbridled spirit of Lington and friends - and their desire to lift us up - much longer.
A week before the official drop of Alone Together: The Duets, Lington will host a livestream album release concert on StageIT Saturday, March 20 at 5 p.m. PT/8 a.m. ET. For more information, please visit: https://www.stageit.com/MichaelLington