Sunday, May 13, 2007

Paul Taylor | "Ladies' Choice" 5-22-07

Expanding upon the sensuous and romantic smooth jazz vibe that has made him one of the genre's most dynamic saxophonists, Paul Taylor makes his fourth Peak Records release a true Ladies' Choice; creating his most soulful instrumental tracks ever and keeping company with three of today's most acclaimed female R&B vocalists—Regina Belle, La Toya London and Terry Dexter.

Capturing all of the soulful grooves, dazzling melodies and seductive magic that have become his trademark, Ladies' Choice perfectly reflects the incredible synergy the charismatic Taylor has had for over a decade with his devoted audience, and takes his music to a whole new urban adult contemporary dimension.

The collection is also the sax man's third in a row—after 2003's Steppin' Out and 2005's Nightlife--to feature tracks helmed by veteran R&B/jazz producers Barry Eastmond (Al Jarreau, Regina Belle, Jonathan Butler, Anita Baker) and Rex Rideout (Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright, Boney James, Najee). The title was inspired by a special moment that happened every night at clubs throughout the country in the 70s. The DJ would stop the music, take the mike and declare the next song to be "Ladies' Choice"—an invitation for the ladies to pick the guys they want to dance with.

"When I first got into the studio with Barry at his place in New York, we started completely from scratch and had no idea that the exciting Ladies' Choice idea would emerge," says Taylor. "Generally, he'll have some tracks worked up and I'll start with some melodic ideas and take it from there. When we listened back to the first song we wrote, its cool thumping old school vibe just reminded me of those 70s disco nights and the title 'Ladies' Night' just hit me as the right title to convey the blend of retro-soul, romantic music and contemporary edges we were going for. Once we had established this concept, we expanded on it by including songs sung by some of my favorite female artists. I've included vocal tracks before on my recordings, but these ladies are taking my music to a whole new level."

Eastmond (who produced seven tracks), Rideout (four) and Taylor are all good friends, and Taylor's two producers have a friendly competition going each time the sax man asks them to come on board. "They want to know who's going to do the most tracks," Taylor laughs, "and who's going to win out—Barry, whom Rex calls 'the king of urban AC,' or Rex, whose trademark is creating subtle accompaniment that lets me grow and do my thing. I have a dynamic chemistry with both, and each in their own way brings out the essence of what I do with my melodies. I know their tracks and soundscapes are going to be amazing, and I look forward to what we're going to come up with together."

The first five Eastmond-produced cuts on Ladies' Choice include the title track, "Here We Go" and "Streamline," three co-writes by Eastmond and Taylor that blend old school soul atmospheres, bouncing bass grooves and the saxophonist's dashing flair for horn texturing. Taylor's powerful alto coloring and solo complement London's passionate voice on the dreamy late night ballad "I Want To Be Loved By You"; his alto also sways behind Belle's playful and sassy vocals on the crisp, sparsely arranged romance "How Did You Know" (which she co-wrote with Eastmond). Eastmond's other tracks include another lush Belle penned ballad, "Open Your Eyes," which features a searing vocal/sax duet energy; and the sweet and breezy, old school-vibin' "Summer's End."

Rideout produced the other two incredible vocals on Ladies' Choice, the sensuous, almost mystical "Long Distance Relationship," which features beautiful voice texturing behind the lead of Terry Dexter, and the mid-tempo and brassy, classic blues and soul flavored "A Love Of Your Own" (a cover of an Average White Band classic) with vocalist Lauren Evans; Evans also co-wrote "Long Distance Relationship" with Rideout and guitarist Darrell Crooks. Rideout also helmed the sizzling, hard-edged disco-fied "Overdrive" and the funky; horn inflected closer "Point Of View."

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1 comment:

ChrisE said...

Thanks for the titillating review Mike! I know myself and other Paul Taylor fans have been waiting with bated breath for this CD release. And...I agree, he's one of the most dynamic saxophonists in smooth jazz today..heads above the rest in my book. It looks like he's outdone himself this time and we're in for a real treat!