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Lington Gives Popular Song the Smooth Jazz Treatment


Saxophonist Michael Lington became a fan of American jazz while growing up in his native Denmark. It was a passion so strong that he eventually settled down in the U.S. and launched a recording career. In a recent interview with VOA's Doug Levine, Michael Lington spoke about his newly-acquired solo fame and his latest album, A Song For You, dedicated to some very special pop classics.

It seems like everybody is going back to their musical roots these days. But it isn't often that a tribute come from a jazz instrumentalist. For Michael Lington, it was the chance of a lifetime to go into the studio and re-work some of the biggest hits of the 1970s and '80s.

"This album is terribly exciting," says Mr. Lington. "It's a dream come true, really. Thinking about how impossible it seemed to do an album with a full orchestra, with [producer] Randy Waldman, and my dream band. Realizing that that actually did happen, it's a pretty amazing feeling."

"When I was 14, I just got so influenced by jazz and R&B, and singers, and singers-songwriters, and I lost interest with the clarinet, basically," he adds. "I didn't hear David Sanborn play the clarinet. I didn't hear Grover Washington, Junior, play the clarinet. I didn't hear Michael Brecker play the clarinet. So to me, I started getting really interested in that [saxophone] sound. And it was in the same family of instruments. Basically, it was just a natural progression that I was growing up and I got interested in another style."

It's been a long time since Michael Lington made the switch from clarinet to saxophone, but with encouragement from producer Randy Waldman and a week's worth of practice, he performed a clarinet solo on the intro to "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word."

Even with such non-traditional arrangements, Lington is hearing only good things about his new release.

"What's interesting about it is that people outside the format, people that may not know about me or 'smooth jazz' react in an amazing way, very positively to this album," he says. "Because not only are they songs they are familiar with but the whole treatment is very classic and very non-genre driven. It's just music."

Michael Lington's A Song For You provides a nostalgic return to the peak of pop music's singer-songwriter era. It was a time when the charts were dominated by Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Carole King, whose hit song "It's Too Late" only seems to get better with age.

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