MICHAEL LINGTON

"Stay With Me"

Rendezvous

Is there no end to the parade of alto saxophonists recording smooth jazz CDs these days? It's hard to say what's more difficult: keeping their names straight or telling their albums apart.

Michael Lington's "Stay With Me" dares anyone who's already acquainted with the legion of contemporary jazz reedmen to stay tuned. Granted, there's nothing particularly objectionable about Lington's take on the music. "Stay With Me" is brimming with romantic ballads, featuring original tunes (the breezy "Pacifica"), pieces co-written by smooth jazz stars (keyboardist Brian Culbertson contributes to the sunny title cut and "A New Day"), and the inevitable pop cover -- a swooning sax rendition of Linda and Paul McCartney's "My Love." No stranger to the genre, Lington glides through one radio-friendly arrangement after another with ease and assurance.

But what is there to say about "Stay With Me" that hasn't already been said over and over again about very similar discs from Dave Koz (who serves as an executive producer here) or Gerald Albright or Everette Harp or, well, feel free to fill in the blank? Maybe we should just mention the cameos by multi-instrumentalist Paul Brown and guitarists Chuck Loeb and Paul Jackson Jr., and drop the subject.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Saturday and Sunday with Brian Culbertson at the Birchmere. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Michael Lington, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8128. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)