*On stage, he shines like a freshly polished trumpet. In his recording studio, he creates smooth blends of intoxicating music. Michael Lington isn’t your ordinary Jazz musician. For starters, he’s a white guy from Copenhagen, Denmark. More importantly, he’s a world-class saxophone player and he has carved his own place among the biggest and brightest instrumentalists in R&B.
On Aug. 9, Lington will take his talents to the Long Beach Jazz Festival. The two-day event attracts locals and tourists from all over the world. For Lington, it’s merely another stop on his journey to super stardom.
“I’m thrilled to have reached this point in my career,” he explained during an interview. “It’s a culmination of many hours perfecting my sound in the studio. I’m honored and humbled by the opportunity.”
Raised in a small town, Lington spent his adolescence preparing to add his own chapter to the annals of Jazz history. He might not have known it then, but the road he decided to travel was paved in sweat from predominately black performers and singers. That didn’t discourage him from picking up a clarinet and recreating versions of hit songs from some of his favorite Jazz artists, however.
As he grew older, his taste in music evolved. Lington was no longer satisfied with bland melodies—he craved flavor, kick and spice. After hearing a jazz record play over the radio, Lington fell in love with the sound of rattling high hats, crackling snare drums, and whistling brass horns. Inspired and hungry for a career in music, he chose to play the saxophone—an instrument that has helped him achieve ample success and international fame.
“I’ve always had a huge attraction to American music,” he said during his interview with EUR’s Lee Bailey. “I had this dream of living in a America and making a living playing music.
He continued, “When I was growing up, we had government owned radio stations. They were controlled by one governing body of people. One hour, the music would be classical; the next hour it would be instrumental; the next hour was soul music; and so on. I got hooked on the saxophone and the rest is history. It was like a ripple effect. I browsed through record stores and bought vinyl albums of my favorite musicians at the time. That’s how I got started.”
In his formative years, Lington rubbed shoulders with various musicians that would tour Europe in search of broader audiences. These experiences helped develop his jones for Jazz music.
“My grandfather was a band leader, composer and musician,” he explained. He built long term relationships and friendships with the soul artists from the 40’s and 50’s. He even had a working relationship with Josephine baker. He introduced me to most of his peers. That’s what indirectly started that attraction for music.”
As his passion for music grew, Lington eventually decided to pursue a larger market than what he was accustomed to in his hometown. He packed his sax, said his goodbyes, and caught a flight to America—the reigning music capital of the world. The next few years were for paying dues. Lington played his music for any crowd willing to listen—big or small. He traversed every coast and combed through every nook and cranny of America’s Jazz scene. In 1996, Lington was finally offered his first recording contract. It was the breakthrough he had hoped for as a young boy.
“I was trying to find out what my voice would be and how far I could take it,” Lington explained. “Denmark is a small country; it’s hard to break out there. I knew that I could grow in America. It took work, but I got was I was looking for.”
Over the course of his career, Lignton has released 8 solo albums and 15 Radio and Records/Billboard radio singles. He has collaborated with Michael Bolton, Aaron Neville, Randy Crawford, Bobby Caldwell, Kenny Lattimore, Ryan Shaw, Joan Sebastian, Christian Castro and many others.
His most recent album, Soul Appeal, was released April 8 by Copenhagen Music. His CD reached number four on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Sales Chart. It entered the Billboard Heat Seeker chart at number 39 and was named Jazztrax Album of the Year in 2008. Lington’s duet with Aaron Neville, “That’s When You Save Me,” tied as Jazztrax Best Vocal Song of the Year. You & I, the first single from Heat, went to number two on the national R&R chart. He was nominated for International Instrumentalist of the Year 2009.
With seven successful albums to his credit, Lington has produced numerous hit singles, played for thousands of fans in concert all over the world—and for royalty—having played several times for the Danish royal family, including a command performance for the wedding reception of Crown Prince Frederik, the country’s future king.
“It took two years for me to write the album [Soul Appeal],” he explained. “I wrote more than 40 songs. I only picked 10 of the songs and recorded them live. I’ve gotten such an enormous reception—it’s validating and it feels great,” he added softly.
Lington continued, “I wanted to make songs that I could connect with. I think my fans have also been able to connect with my music. I’ve grown as an artist, and a performer and a writer. That’s my greatest achievement thus far.”
Get MORE on Michael Lington and hear his music at www.MichaelLington.com.