ALTOS ATMOSPHERE…Michael Lington: Second Nature, Jacknife: The Music of Jackie McLean

The alto sax can come in a wide variety of formats, with some of jazz’s most important albums being delivered by alto saxists. Here are a couple that mine the caves for vintage sounds from earlier generations.

Alto saxist Michael Lington sounds like he wished he was part of STAX Records in the 60s, as he’s got a vintage R&B sound similar to heroes like Ray or Maceo Parker. He teams up with Booker T Jones for a funky stew on “Beale Street,” while some wacka wooka guitar brings in the disco ball on “Stone Cool.” Brian Culbertson joins in on a tightening up “Slick” while “Memphis Strut” has an irresistible groove. Ol’ Ray Parker himself joins in for a funky chicken of “Wooh” while some guitar does some witnessing during “On A Sunday Morning.” Lington’s tone has a clear cry like a Harlem nocturne, making this one a tonal treat.

Steven Lugerner delvers a tribute to the advanced hard bopper Jackie McLean with an impressively assertive and swinging team of JJ Kirkpatrick/tp, Richare Sears/p, Garret Lang/b and Michael Mitchell/dr. The leader has a sharp and acrid tone, quite similar to the legend himself, and it works well on the bluesy “Hip Strut” while he languishes along with Kirkpatrick’s horn on “Melody for Melonae.” The brooding moods of “On the Nile” has Lugerner crying and shrieking, while Sears sleek and ectomorphic  piano is a nice balance on “ Cancellation” and the hiply strutting “Das Dat.” The team is definitely swing, swang and swingin’ here.

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