Michael Paulo

Midnight Passion

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Michael Paulo's ingenious "Millennium Swing" on the saxman's Midnight Passion would have been the perfect party music to ring in Y2K with. Using the dramatic backdrop of the Johann Strauss theme made famous by the movie 2001 as a launching pad, Paulo weaves retro-soul and blues/funk keyboard flavors (alternating synth-created B-3 and Rhodes sounds) and wah-wah guitar clicks with brass flourishes and a playful call and response between his honking soprano and Michael "Patches" Stewart's trumpet.

Then it's disco all the way with "YT," which combines a punchy drum machine, soaring tenor melody, and a synth string line that approximates the vibe of the Soul Train theme. Most of the other tunes are more typical of Paulo's previous catalog, a mix of easy funk grooves and dreamy, smoldering ballads that the album title -- which recalls that of his first album, 1989's One Passion -- would seem to promise. In looking towards the millennium, he seems to be surveying elements of the past three decades. Kimo Cornwell's Rhodes brings a '70s Crusaders flavor to several tunes, while "Struttin' With Mama Mae" combines '90s hip-hop energy with occasional bursts of the type of synth accents that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis used with Janet Jackson in the '80s.

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