Michael Lington – Second Nature

Mar. 26, 2016

Seldom do I offer a review of an album that’s about a month away from being released, but something about what this latest effort by Michael Lington CDDanish saxman Michael Lington convinced me that I had to weigh in now.

It’s always so very refreshing to hear a new release from Lington because, not only is it usually full of smooth and cool and funk, it’s always a journey through the rich turf of melody, and this release places you in that soul-rich era of the 60s whose essence continues to defy death and is always alive and kickin’ in our hearts and souls.

The album, Second Nature, is due for release on April 22 and, in my opinion, is bound for a trip to the top of the charts. Right from the lead track, Beale Street, it grabs you and calls you to dance…and to remember -remember the Memphis and Philly groove of yesteryear, the southern sass of Booker T, the Bar-Kays, James Brown, Sam & Dave, Aretha, Otis Redding, and so many other icons of that beloved period.

Lington’s sax is loaded to overflowing with the spirit of full-bodied and classy soul, jazz, and funk. His is a style that is always passionate and leaves no prisoners. Here with guest artists like Booker T, Brian Culbertson (who lives that funk life as well as anyone), and the iconic Ray Parker Jr., as well as his latest partner on the road, Taylor Dayne, his solid groove and hefty grit come across loud and clear.

This one has far too many great tracks and reminiscent callings to pick a single fave, although several (“Beale Street,” “Stone Cool,” “Slick,” (featuring Culbertson) and “Memphis Strut,” and the bluesy soulfulness of “Some Kinda Way” featuring vocalist Sy Smith who has always had a knack for making songs sparkle).

One track certainly worth mentioning is the only cover Lington does here – “Soul Finger” by the beloved Bar-Kays. The authenticity displayed here is riveting as Lington brought in a band of Stax rhythm section players and members of renowned crooner Al Green’s band to do this one some serious justice. Ironically, the sole surviving member of the Bar-Kays (four members of which perished in the tragic plane crash that killed legendary soul singer – and my favorite all-time soul/blues performer—Otis Redding), Ben Cauley, who originally wrote the tune, passed away on the day Lington & Co. re-recorded it. No doubt, however, that he is beaming with pride and satisfaction over Lington’s handling of the cover.

With Taylor Dayne’s compelling vocals on “Alright,” Parker’s funky guitar work on “Wooh,” and so many other attractants here, this entire album simply smokes. If you love the spirit of soul, blues, jazz, funk, and plenty of melody and rhythm, you’re gonna grab a copy of this blazer and let the satisfying blanket of cool just wash over your smiling soul. – Ronald Jackson