Michael Lington & Paul Taylor (6pm Show)
The Funky Biscuit at The Funky Biscuit
Boca Raton, FL
*This event is 21+ unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
About Michael Lington:
When 2020 began, Michael Lington was eagerly looking forward to many wonderful events – the impending birth of his son Landon, touring again with his fellow saxophone stars Vincent Ingala and Paul Taylor as Sax to the Max, and numerous European solo dates. Then COVID-19 hit, and the resulting lockdown scrambled everything. Prevented from hitting the road, Lington quickly turned his home studio into one of contemporary jazz’s premiere virtual performance destinations, with a popular ongoing series of weekly shows on the StageIt platform.
In a year like no other, the pandemic has wreaked havoc with our health, the economy and our day to day lives – but with the relase of his latest recording Alone Together on Peak Records (distributed through BVD/Sony/Orchard), the innovative artist and his array of musical friends (from the worlds of contemporary jazz and beyond) remind us it can’t stop the flow of creativity and determination to bring fans together to experience a collective joy like no other.
“Alone Together is a unique project that presented itself in many shapes and forms,” Lington says. “When the pandemic started and all my touring was postponed indefinitely, I knew I needed to continue creating music for my own well-being. It was more a matter of my mental health than financial survival. I didn’t want to sit around feeling stagnant and unproductive. That’s when I started doing my virtual shows from my studio on StageIt.
“A few shows in,” he adds, “I started inviting special guests to perform with me, but as technology wasn’t allowing for ‘live’ duets we did it literally ‘alone together’ from separate locations as a pre-record. The most exhilarating part was that my fellow artists that I invited all said yes immediately – and the same goes for the selections I made for this album. At a time when I thought I might not be working at all, I’ve never worked so hard in my life to bring all the musical and technical elements together. This has been a very difficult juncture in all of our lives, but what it has shown me is that we as human beings are very cable of adapting and uniting, even in the most challenging of circumstances.”
In addition to the opportunity for fans to once again experience favorite warm-hearted and transcendent moments of the StageIt shows, the tracks on Alone Together allow everyone to revisit some of the most compelling original and cover songs from Lington’s multi-faceted 20-plus year solo discography. Opening with a rousing version of “Baker Street” featuring Javier Colon (from Heat), the set includes “Everything Must Change” feat. Chris Walker (Everything Must Change), “Gonna Love You Tonight” feat. Kenny Lattimore (Soul Appeal), “My Love” feat. Dave Koz (Stay With Me), “Some Kinda Way feat. Sy Smith (Second Nature), “Slick” feat. Brian Culbertson (Second Nature), “So Very Hard to Go” feat. Dorian Holley (Silver Lining), “Road Trip” (feat. Nick Colionne) (Pure) and “You’ve Got a Friend” feat. Billy Dean (A Song For You). Lington also fires up a dynamic horn conversation with superstar saxman Boney James on Boney’s #1 hit “Up All Night.”
Beyond the ongoing flow of Lington favorites, themed presentations like tributes to the music of Luther Vandross and David Sanborn and special holiday shows, a major key to the success of Lington’s livestream series is its state-of-the-art video and audio technology. Lington launched the venture a bit more primitively, tinkering around with some basic streaming equipment he had in his studio and getting it up to speed just enough so that he could test a few opening shows on Facebook Live. He dialed in the sound quickly, then wanted better camera’s and lighting and a more professional, higher quality visual presentation.
His friend Evan Lowenstein, founder of StageIt, had been telling him for years about the benefits of working with his company. Thousands of artists have used the popular platform, where they perform live, interactive, monetized shows for their fans directly from a laptop, offering those fans special one time only experiences that are never archived. Lington started the series with the StageIt interface and a simple mono feed with his computer camera and no special lighting.
With the company’s help, and inspired by his opening show which sold well, Lington achieved stereo sound and entered what he calls the “brave new world,” adding new tech elements with each show. He began using OBS broadcasting software to run video packets, graphics and overlays, adding webcams, enhancing the lighting and treatment of the room and ultimately running the streaming through a Mac Pro. He currently works with moving BlackMagic Designs 4K and 6K cameras and broadcasts in 1080HD.
When it came time to stream the duets, technical challenges made it impossible to do them live. So for each duet, Lington and each artist created pre-recorded videos, doing one take from top to bottom. He mixed the music and then sent it all to a video editor to synch it up – and the result is pure sonic and split screen visual magic. As Lington says in his liner notes, “What ended up happening was incredible. We put together performances that were so real, heartfelt and authentic that it became apparent we were creating something special. We captured a spirit and vibe beyond anything I could have imagined. It’s not about being perfect but all about the heart and soul. It’s exciting to now share that magic again on Alone Together.
“Besides prompting me to learn a lot about new technologies, one of the loveliest aspects of the StageIt series is how it has created a special community among longtime and new fans. When you perform like this, you never know whos’ out there listening. Then I get those heartwarming emails that say things like, ‘We’re all locked down at home, and every Sunday night you give us a sense of normalcy in the world and something to look forward to.’ To them, I’m no longer just Michael Lington, the artist, but the friend who comes into their home and chats with and plays for them—and we are now Alone Together!
About Paul Taylor:
In the first few bars of the title track to his new Peak Records/eOne album, Countdown, contemporary urban jazz’ hit saxman Paul Taylor, ever the engaging showman, invites his legion of fans into the experience by counting off 5…4…3…2…1. He launches into his incredible third decade as a solo artist with a set that’s fuses his trademark jazzy/funk/soul vibe with prominent elements of synthy dance pop/EDM, trancelike neo-soul, electronica, folksy lite rock, reggaeton, even a touch of blues.
The album’s colorful fusion of grooves and styles was created by the saxophonist and his longtime collaborator, co-writer and producer Dino Esposito. The two share a dynamic several decade long history that began when they played in the same band while attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Esposito’s collaboration as a co-writer, producer and sonic co-architect began with Paul’s 1995 debut On the Horn and continued with Pleasure Seeker (1997), Undercover (2000), Hypnotic (2001), Nightlife (2005), Prime Time (2011) and Tenacity (2014).
Countdown’s first single, “Arrival” is a spot on reflection of their multi-faceted freewheeling approach to stylistic fusion. The two also cite Paul’s soprano led track “Told Ya So” as another prime example. “It’s dancehall reggae the way artists like Drake and Rihanna do it,” Taylor says. “It’s cool to apply that contemporary pop current to my R&B/jazz sound.” Another track that Taylor feels steps away from the usual urban jazz hitting the charts these days is “Crossroads,” Complementing these tracks are two infectious, in the pocket tunes which reveal Taylor’s mastery of melody and easy flowing funk grooves – achieved here via seductive clapping percussion. The first is the opening track “Countdown,” which introduces the sizzling horn texture dynamic that drives many of the emotional high points throughout the set. Taylor says, “This one starts in a dreamy place, as if you’re anticipating something big, and then it breaks through with beats and ambience, creating emotional power but in a subdued mystical way.” The second is “Polaris,” one of the jazzier tunes on the album, a gentle soprano ballad featuring the subtle acoustic guitar graces of Peter White (providing harmonies and a transcendent solo).
Other key tracks include the EDM jam “Club 702,” a high energy tribute to the many successful DJs in Taylor’s adopted hometown of Las Vegas (whose area code is 702); the spirited midtempo electronic funk piece “Knocking At Your Door,” featuring Taylor’s backing vocals seductively repeating the title; and a whimsical “Roundup” of a lot of different styles, including the folksy, jangling guitar of Brian Monroney and touches of progressive EDM grooves and jazzy energy. One of the highlights of Taylor’s Tenacity album was his cover of The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games.” Setting a precedent by re-inventing a tune by the same artist on consecutive albums, Taylor extends his love for the Canadian alt-R&B singer to his fresh and atmospheric, deep soul-jazz take on the #1 pop hit “The Hills.”
“Getting the go-ahead for a new album is always the greatest news because we can toss around ideas and come up with fresh new ways to color around the edges of my core melodic horn vibe, staying true to my stylistic integrity,” says Taylor. “Our goal is always to do something we haven’t tried before, and we have fun experimenting and being adventurous. On Countdown, we achieve that by trying new EDMish kind of mashups, trying to make two or three different styles mesh.”
Esposito agrees he and Taylor are so in tune and trust each other so implicitly that if the saxman shoots him an eight or 16 bar idea or vice versa, the other can pick it up and develop it exactly the way the other envisioned. “Paul has never been afraid to step out of the box of the sound urban jazz artists usually conform to, and I’m always pushing that envelope as well,” he says. “Paul’s always hearing amazing new sounds and he’s open to all the music I’ve been immersed in like chill, hip-hop, EDM, electric soul and pop alternative. We’re always thinking, what can we bring to the table, what can we explore and how can we fuse different touches of all we love without going too far out of the genre’s mainstream”
Though Taylor has been a groundbreaking force among the sax elite in the genre since his hit 1995 debut On The Horn, his 2014 #1 hit “Supernova” continued the exhilarating upswing he has been enjoying since he started his second decade as an artist with Ladies’ Choice (2007) – his first ever #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart. “Burnin’,” the title track from his 2009 album, hit #1 on the airplay charts, and “Push To Start” from Prime Time (2011), hit the pole position on the Smooth Jazz Songs chart. Prime Time further lived up to its colorful name by reaching the Top Ten on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart.
The Denver native has been mesmerizing thousands of fans, headlining hundreds of shows and being part of exciting all-star tours – most recently doing dates with Peter White and Euge Groove in a lineup affectionately dubbed “Peter, Paul and Euge.” Before that he was part of the blockbuster summer tours Gentlemen of the Night (with Marion Meadows and Warren Hill) and Sax and the City (with Meadows and Vincent Ingala). Over the years, he has also hit the road with The Rippingtons and the acclaimed “Groovin’ For Grover” tour.
In December 2012, the longtime basketball enthusiast achieved another longtime dream, performing the National Anthem in Madison Square Garden at a New York Knicks game; their coach Mike Woodson is a longtime fan. Taylor is now also an official endorsee of Vigilante mouthpieces and tenor and alto for Cannonball Musical Instruments.
After over ten albums of non-stop hit making, thousands of charismatic performances worldwide and years of setting new standards for the sonic possibilities of contemporary urban jazz, Paul Taylor’s still got his antenna up – ready to pounce on, absorb and be inspired by every vibe he hears that’s fresh, hip and edgy. Now, with Countdown, he’s blasting off into the next phase of his career, excited about the road ahead!
Michael Lington / Paul Taylor