Michael Lington: Heat

Saxophonist Michael Lington’s sixth CD continues his growth as a smooth-jazz technician who understands the power of melody above all else. Calling on producers Greg Phillinganes, Matthew Hager and Keith Olsen, Lington returns to the grooves of his most accomplished CD to date, Stay With Me. He delivers the type of hook and warm alto sounds he’s known for on tunes like “You and I” and “Memphis,” but wisely expands on his all-instrumental repertoire with a cover of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street,” calling on friend and American Idol finalist Ace Young for a fresh update on the 30-year chestnut.

A bigger coup comes with guest star Aaron Neville on “That’s When You Save Me,” the legendary New Orleans vocalist’s angelic voice beyond compare on a song written by Claude Kelly. Elsewhere, Brazilian guitarist Torcuato Mariano adds a splash of bossa nova to “Chuva,” co-written with Michael and Daniel Sembello, while British vocalist Keely Hawkes lights up “Shout About Ya,” a hot A/C tune penned by Lington and the team of Allan Rich and Jud Friedman.