Michael Lington

Everything Must Change

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Some bop snobs would have listeners believe that smooth jazz is inherently evil because it is designed to attract R&B and pop audiences -- that commercialism is a place where only infidels, heretics, and blasphemers dwell. But truth be told, smooth jazz is what the artist chooses to make it; some pop-friendly jazz (Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, Pat Metheny) has been quite creative. Unfortunately, a lot of radio-oriented smooth jazz tends to be contrived and formulaic, and more often than not, Michael Lington's Everything Must Change is a perfect example of an artist modeling himself after what NAC radio is playing instead of gambling with inspiration. The problem with much of this CD isn't the fact that Lington has been influenced by urban contemporary, funk, and pop -- contrary to the assertions of bop snobs, there is no reason why jazz shouldn't be combined with a variety of different things. Nor is Lington's problem a lack of chops; he's a capable saxophonist who knows his way around both the alto and the soprano. The problem with most of Everything Must Change is a lack of spontaneity and a refusal to break free of the dictates of smooth jazz/NAC radio; all too often, the Danish saxman is more than happy to emulate Dave Koz, Warren Hill, or Kenny G. if it will make program directors happy. Nonetheless, this CD does have a few memorable tracks -- most notably, the Spanish-tinged, somewhat Gato Barbieri-ish "Mallorca" and a soulful interpretation of "Everything Must Change." Lington really digs into Bernard Ighner's standard, and he demonstrates that he is quite capable of being warm and personal instead of formulaic. But those tracks are the exception instead of the rule; most of the time Lington sells himself short on this 2002 release.

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