2019 Lineup

Sax to the Max

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

MICHAEL LINGTON – SILVER LINING:
Growing up in Copenhagen, Michael Lington remembers the precise moment he decided he needed to move to America if he was going to seriously pursue a career in music. He was still a budding musician at the time, who loved several different genres: jazz, pop, R&B and more—as a young boy he’d even met the American swing legend Benny Goodman. But it wasn’t until he was on the verge of turning 20 that Lington—now recognized as one of the most creative and successful contemporary soul and jazz saxophonists in the world—made his fateful decision.

Immersing himself in his favorite music—David Sanborn, Michael Brecker, King Curtis, Hank Crawford, Cannonball Adderley and Grover Washington—Michael started out on clarinet but soon found his true calling, the saxophone. Already established in his homeland, he made the move to the U.S. and began to grab a foothold in the music industry there. Eventually, after much hard work, his place within the American and international music scene came to him naturally:

“I loved that contemporary sax was so versatile in all styles of music: funk, jazz, R&B, pop,” Lington says, but soul music hit him most directly. “It’s hard to describe why something in particular is meaningful to a person, but soul music spoke to me very early on in my life—it’s just a feeling and reaction I had when I would hear it.”

Michael Lington is releasing Silver Lining, his 10th solo album, the followup to 2016’s critically acclaimed Second Nature. Silver Lining features mostly original compositions by Lington and producer/co-arranger/keyboardist Barry Eastmond, as well as a pair of stunning, choice covers.

“This has been my favorite album to record,” says Lington. “With Silver Lining there was an overall confidence and clarity as to what I wanted to achieve, so I had more capacity to just let loose and have fun. We recorded most of it live so we could get that organic, special feel from all of the musicians being in the studio at the same time. “Whether we record at Sunset Sounds in L.A. or Royal Studio in Memphis, it’s all the same process,” he adds. “All of the musicians are in one room together, except for some of the special guests, who we recorded at different times for logistical reasons, although Barry and I were always present to make sure our vision was reached.”

Those guests include some of the top names in the business. In addition to Lington’s alto sax and Eastmond’s keys on all tracks, the participating musicians include Paul Jackson Jr. and Ray Parker Jr. on guitars, Freddie Washington and Alex Al sharing bass duties, Teddy Campbell contributing the drums, Lenny Castro on percussion, and a number of other musicians appearing on a track or two, including one of the original Funk Brothers, Jack Ashford. The horns are arranged by Lester Snell and Eastmond. “The musicians on the album are some of the best in the world—it is so inspiring to be surrounded by such talent,” says Lington. “It challenges me and makes me a better musician.”

Michael reserves special praise for Barry Eastmond, who has worked with Lington for some time and serves as a true collaborator on Silver Lining. “We originally met in New York when I was a special guest with Michael Bolton,” Lington says. “He produced Bolton some years ago and was hanging out backstage. I knew about Barry’s work with Billy Ocean, Anita Baker and Jonathan Butler so I was excited when he came up to me and told me he was a fan of my music and would love to work together. Shortly thereafter we started writing and came up with the concept of doing more soul-based, live-feeling recordings. We soon went into the studio and made my Soul Appeal album. Silver Lining is our third album together. He has been a very important component in every aspect, including being the barometer for how to make an album feel really good.”

Silver Lining begins with “City Life,” one of three consecutives Eastmond/Lington compositions at the top of the track list. It features guitar from the legendary Dave Stewart of Eurythmics. “Three years ago,” Lington recalls, “Dave and I were both performing at a show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and prior to the show he asked me if I would join him on a song during his set. I was very flattered as I was a big fan of him and Eurythmics. We became instant friends and have played and written together many times since then. When I asked him if he would play on my new album, he said absolutely.”

Following the next two originals, “Break the Ice” and “Déjà Vu,” arrives the first interpretative piece on Silver Lining, Curtis Mayfield’s classic, timeless ballad “People Get Ready,” which the late R&B icon recorded with the Impressions in 1965. To sing the song, Lington recruited 2017 Grammy winner William Bell, himself a soul legend who recorded for Memphis’ Stax Records back in its heyday. “I knew I wanted to record it on this album. I just wasn’t sure who was going to sing it until I met William Bell at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame,” Lington says. “I was asked to induct the great [jazz musician] Charles Lloyd and William was getting inducted himself. When I heard him sing that night I knew he was the one for that song…and he agreed to do it!”

Of the title track to Silver Lining, Lington says, “I feel in life you have to always find the silver lining. Most times things don’t turn out the way you think they will, but somehow they always work out, many times for the better. This song I love because it reminds me of the old CTI Records [jazz label] days. That music is my core and makes an emotional connection with me and most lovers of early soul-jazz. The title ‘Silver Lining’ just fits this song.”

Two more originals, “Can’t Say Goodbye” and “M-Funk,” follow, the latter featuring guitarist, singer-songwriter and record producer extraordinaire Ray Parker Jr. “Ray is one of my best friends and we have worked together for many years,” says Lington. “He must have played on at least five of my albums. He always surprises me with his creativity; his approach to the guitar is like no one else. Who are you gonna call when you need something unique? Ray Parker Jr!”

The original “Swingin’ on Main Street” precedes “So Very Hard to Go,” the soul classic by Tower of Power. Guest Dorian Holley provides the tour de force vocal. “I wanted to record it for this album but make it more like an intimate Al Green record than a horn band record,” says Lington. “Dorian was just supposed to help us out with a guide vocal, but we loved his performance so much that we kept it for the record.”

The final two tracks, “Jaywalking” (featuring Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar) and “Straight to the Top,” are further originals, closing out the set in style. For Lington, Silver Lining is both a culmination of all the musical places he has been and a taste of where he’s headed. He’s always seeking to evolve.

“It’s been 20 years since my first album and I feel I’m just getting started,” he says. “Yes, I have had many wins along the way, including radio success, and my new album is sincerely my favorite. I think that’s because I have come into myself and am comfortable in who I am as an artist, but honestly, I don’t think a lot about success. I’m more interested in what’s happening next, what is my next journey or chapter.”

He’s also learned much about business along the way, which led him and his business partner, Roy McClurg, to launch his own record label, Copenhagen Music, in 2014. Lington is also an entrepreneur outside of music, operating his own wine and cigar companies. He continues to tour, performing as many as 80 concerts per year, and has played in more than 40 countries, working many of the world’s most prestigious venues. He’s even performed for a U.S. President.

This year, Lington will tour behind Silver Lining, hitting the road with his band and reuniting with an old friend, singer Kenny Lattimore.

“My music has changed a bit over the years but now it’s uptempo soul, funk and R&B,” he says. “Basically, I try to entertain people with feel-good music and give them a fun time.”

 

Vincent Ingala

Twenty-something music prodigy Vincent Ingala is no stranger to contemporary jazz audiences. His heartfelt, sweet and soulful mix has catapulted him to the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts, garnering him four Billboard #1s, and nine top 10 hits. The charismatic and handsome instrumental wizard has endeared fans, contemporaries and critics alike with his consummate musicianship, fun-loving stage presence, energized and inspired performances and all-around passion. Ingala, who was handpicked to open for Dave Koz at the tender age of 16, is an old soul with a musical identity and wisdom well beyond his years. He has collaborated with and or opened for such artists as Chris Botti, Jonathan Butler, Peter White and Kim Waters, among others. “I do not remember making a decision about becoming a musician because music was always inside of me,” confides Ingala “My earliest memories are of banging on pots and pans until my parents had to buy me a drum kit and from there it was like a domino effect.” From banging on pots to churning out hits, Ingala is a chameleon in the recording studio. Like an alchemist, he concocts the perfect elixir of his broad musical influences spanning the worlds of jazz, R&B, disco, pop and beyond.  A virtual one-man band playing everything from tenor saxophone, piano and drums to guitar, bass and lead vocals, Ingala possesses great ingenuity, extraordinary versatility and an endless supply of inspiration. “I love all types of music and genres and I just absorb as much of it as I can,” explains the young, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer. “I have always been mesmerized with the process of multi-track recording from a very young age. It’s a process that I still love and practice today.” April 27, 2018, Vincent Ingala will release his fifth solo recording and Shanachie Entertainment debut, Personal Touch. A collection of eight stirring original tracks and two surprising reinventions of R&B chestnuts, Vincent Ingala proves why he is one of the most exciting artists to emerge in contemporary jazz this past decade.

Danny Weiss, VP Of Jazz A&R for Shanachie Entertainment states, “With Vincent, the sky is the limit.  He’s bursting with talent and in fact he’s played every note on this new CD.  Still in his early 20s, Vincent has already established himself on the top rung of the smooth jazz ladder and we’re looking forward to taking him to the next level.  With his knowledge and interest in all styles of music, there’s no telling where he’ll go from here.”

Personal Touch opens like a radiant sunburst after a long cold winter. The enticing and buoyant number, which is the album’s first single, percolates with warm rhythms that encircle Ingala’s mesmerizing and intoxicating tenor lines. The uplifting and feel-good “My Kind Of Day,” inspired by the ‘perfect summer afternoon,’ follows as Ingala conjures up a sublime dancing groove propelled by his drums. “The saxophone has become the instrument that I identify with the most and that listeners identify me with,” says Ingala. “However, the drums were my very first instrument and still probably my favorite to this day. If I weren’t playing any other instrument today, I’d probably still be a drummer. Rhythm is inside me constantly!”  Ingala does justice to Billy Ocean’s 1980s hit single, “Love Zone,” as his tenor and vocals take center stage on his bluesy and sultry rendition. Ingala also tries his hand at another 80s anthem, Alexander O’Neal’s “If You Were Here Tonight,” demonstrating his ability to seamlessly summon deep emotion. Through his longing tenor, Ingala makes the lyrics palpable with each note that seem to sing the lyrics – “As the night moves in love takes on a new meaning. If you were here you would know what I mean to say. The circumstance leaves me only waiting for the chance I only want to love you more, more…”  The multi-instrumentalist explains, “I have always been one to record remakes of songs that border on the obscure side. I never go for the obvious. Usually they are songs that people loved initially, but may have forgotten about over the years. In the case of these two songs, they fit the bill perfectly for this album and were a match made in heaven for the sax!”

Personal Touch also highlights the gorgeous and lush “Dream Girl,” which showcases both Ingala’s piano and soprano. The groove-heavy Latin-tinged dance track, “I Think I’m Falling In Love (With You),” takes us on a euphoric rendezvous while  “Feng Sway,” finds Ingala kicking it up a few notches, hitting all the right notes. The song title is a nod to “Feng Shui,” the ancient Chinese art/science that is practiced to attain internal and environmental harmony.  The driving percussion and guitar centered track is a high point as Ingala gets down and drenches us in a serious funk vibe.  He describes his family as the centering force in his life. “Knowing I have their support makes all the difference in the world,” says the multi-instrumentalist. “I especially couldn’t have done it without my parents, Leo and Dawn, who have been there with me every single step of the way since the very beginning.”  The wistful and swaying “Can’t Stop The Rain From Falling” provides a tender and introspective moment as Ingala’s tenor transports us on an ethereal voyage. On the R&B jam “Snap, Crackle, Pop,” Ingala delivers an irresistible in-the-pocket groove and hopping melody.  Personal Touch concludes with the buttery smooth ballad “Not Meant To Be,” highlighting Ingala’s soulful and fluid guitar lines. The mystical and memorable number is reminiscent of classic Bob James and has all the makings of a hit.

“When I’m not making music, I enjoy cooking!,” shares the Prospect, CT native. “I think the reason that I like it so much is because of how it relates to putting a song together. In the similar way that you take multiple instruments and put them together to form a song, you blend the various ingredients together to form a special dish. It’s an experience to watch both instances come to life step by step.” Vincent Ingala was drawn to the saxophone as a kid. He recalls hearing Sam Butera on the radio and was instantly taken. “I remember hearing his saxophone solo on ‘Oh Marie’ in the car one day while my cousin was driving us around, and immediately knowing that I wanted to play tenor sax.  He is one of the most underrated saxophonists of all time. What inspires me most about his playing is his use of the melody and his phrasing. Coming from a musically rich New Orleans background and playing with Louis Prima taught Sam that it’s not necessarily about how many notes you can cram in, or how fast you can play, but rather playing for your audience and giving them a beautiful melody that everyone can relate to.”

Vincent Ingala burst on the contemporary jazz scene in 2010 with the release of his critically heralded debut North End Soul. Two years later Ingala was crowned Billboard “Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year” and Sirius XM Watercolors “Breakthrough Artist Of The Year” in 2013. Ingala’s sophomore recording, Can’t Stop Now, was released in 2012 and Coast To Coast followed in 2015, featuring two singles that hit number one on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Vincent Ingala featured his vocal driven Christmas in 2016 showcasing holiday classics.  Ingala is a DJ on Smooth Jazz 24/7 where he can be heard weekly. “It’s a completely different dynamic being a radio host because you’re now sitting on the other side!,” he exclaims.  “You get used to hearing your music being played on the radio, but then suddenly the roles reverse and you’re now the one introducing and spinning the songs. I enjoy being a mascot for the genre and supporting the artists, many of them my friends who I have collaborated with or shared the stage with over the years.”

With the release of Personal Touch, Vincent Ingala further asserts himself as one of the most exciting artists in contemporary jazz. For the multi-talented and multi-dimensional artist, his agenda is simple. “It’s all about the music for me!” declares Ingala. “It always has been, and always will be. All I can ask for is that people feel good when listening to my music.”

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