Michael Lington's ironic inclusion of a Randy Crawford vocal version of Burt Bachrach's "Message to Michael" on the saxman's debut offers an open invitation for smooth jazz fans to tell him what we think. The message we send might begin positively: it's a tough crowd competing with Boney James, Warren Hill and Dave Koz, so it's a great idea to enhance your intensely soaring, doubled sax melody on "Twice in a Lifetime" with the gently drifting flugelhorn of Tony Guerrero. It's also a sharp call to take a torchy harmony role behind Brad Cole's dark toned keyboard melody over the pitter-patter percussion on "P.J. (Pamela Jean). Oh, and balancing more pedestrian funk jams like "Too Good to Be True" with the much more intoxicating Brazilian rhythms of "Por Do Sol (Sunset)" helps keep our interest. On that tune, Lington's edgy alto weaves in and out of jittery acoustic guitar lines in a perfect blend of pop balladry and exotica. It's kind of a mixed bag otherwise -- an easygoing but unremarkable take on the R&B classic "Love Won't Let Me Wait," a Kenny G-like soprano line finding a few sparkling moments between the verses of the pretty vocal ballad "Everlasting Love." Lington approaches the power balladry of Warren Hill on one of the best genre ballads in a long time, "Sarai." Overall, the message is that while Lington makes for a powerful, very likable, and sometimes imaginative new voice on the scene, he's not yet offering enough uniqueness to rise high amidst the veterans. Let's hope he takes the message to heart and develops the great potential that's already evident.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran
feat: Randy Crawford
feat: John Pagano