Paul Taylor


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It's smooth sailing for saxophonist Paul Taylor on his sixth album of new material, a worthy successor to his fifth, Steppin' Out (2003), which hit the Top Ten of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. But one could just as easily employ another aquatic cliché and say he's treading water here. As usual, Taylor turns to several writer/programmer/producers to construct largely synthesized backing tracks for him: Rex Rideout is responsible for "Nightlife," "Anything You Say," and "After Hours"; Barry J. Eastmond for "East Bay Bounce," "Around the Corner," "Candlelight," and "Silk 'n' Lace"; and Dino Esposito for "Enjoy the Ride," the cover of the Force M.D.'s' 1986 hit "Tender Love" (written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis), "Don't Wait Up," and "Things Left Unsaid." Taylor takes co-writing credits for laying his melodic sax work over the top, often double-tracking and overdubbing countermelodies. There are occasional other real musicians, particularly guitarists (Dwight Sills, "Jubu" Smith, Brian Monroney, Phil Hamilton), but the emphasis in the music is between Taylor's lines and the electronic rhythm textures for the most part. (Hamilton has some nice Spanish guitar work on the Latin-tinged "Silk 'n' Lace.") The de rigueur vocal track (always included as a sop to radio) is, of course, "Tender Love," which features Maxi Priest, although Lauren Evans also adds some ghostly singing to "Anything You Say." Taylor plays more alto than usual (the balance is six alto tunes to five featuring soprano sax), but since he is often in the high register anyway, there isn't that much difference. Nightlife no doubt will please fans who have enjoyed previous Taylor efforts and those who appreciate smooth jazz in general.

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