Michael Lington, the Copenhagen-born saxophonist, songwriter and producer, has accomplished much in his two-decades-plus as an artist. He’s released more than 10 solo albums, toured tirelessly, and even manages his own wine and cigar companies. But one thing he had never done before is record a Christmas-themed album.
Now, with the release of A Foreign Affair Christmas, his latest release, Lington can check that one off his bucket list. The album features a host of A-list guest stars, including Vince Gill, Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Russ Freeman and others, performing on such holiday classics as “Silent Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silver Bells,” as well as compositions by the late George Michael and Donny Hathaway.
For Lington, the collection, which he produced, has been a long time coming. “I have wanted to record a Christmas album for many years but couldn’t quite decide if it should be a classic or a contemporary sound,” he says. “Christmas is a magical time and the music is a very important soundtrack to it, and during a trip to perform in Barbados for Christmas last year, I came up with the concept to make a feel-good album with unique arrangements, while incorporating styles and artists from all over the world”
The key to making the album stand out from other holiday collections, Lington feels, lies in the arrangements and the production. “I knew that sonically and stylistically it would all come together beautifully, even though we would mix contemporary with classic songs.”
In addition to the tracks noted above, Lington—who plays alto and tenor saxophone, keyboards and percussion on the recording—includes his interpretation of “A Child is Born in Bethlehem,” a traditional Scandinavian song. There’s also a medley of two classics, “Winter Wonderland” and “Let it Snow.” Says Lington, “I started a list with my all-time favorite songs and narrowed it down to my nine must-have tracks. When Vince Gill and I talked about doing something together on the project, he suggested doing Donny Hathaway’s ‘This Christmas,’ and since that song was already on my list, that was a particularly easy choice.”