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Music Review: Paul Taylor – Ladies’ Choice

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I have a funny feeling that I'm not part of the intended market for this new Peak Records release starring contemporary jazz saxophonist Paul Taylor. After all, the album title, Ladies' Choice, would seem to indicate the target in the musician's sights. But Taylor says that the album is a collection of "melodies from the heart", featuring as guest vocalists four ladies whose choices help set the romantic mood.

Those guest stars include Regina Belle, Latoya London, Lauren Evans, and Terry Dexter, all of whom have pretty good credentials as soloists. When combined with Taylor's mellow play and skillful songwriting, they definitely provide an added attraction for fans of the popular urban jazzman.

Over the last decade, Taylor – who plays both soprano and alto sax – has generated a number of albums that have hit the Billboard best-seller list, and he's created quite a following. A lot of fans feel that he's sort of the "anti-Kenny G" in the sense that both play a type of smooth jazz, but Taylor is much more highly respected as a musician.

The collection of songs on this album will certainly hit a bulls-eye with his fans, or anyone else who enjoys soulful contemporary jazz. The instrumentals are first class and when the ladies join in vocally, there are some really pleasing and seductive sounds being generated.

I especially enjoyed listening to Regina Belle, who is probably the biggest name among the guest stars on the album. She's also the only vocalist with two pieces, and both "How Did You Know" and "Open Your Eyes" were very nice. Not that there's anything wrong with the other singers — all three also make good use of their opportunity to show their stuff. One song that stayed with me was Latoya London on "I Want To Be Loved (By You)".

On the songs with vocals Taylor is very much in evidence, but he mostly allows the singers to be the stars. He saves his best extended sax solos for the instrumentals, where he is most definitely the center of it all. My favorite was probably "Summer's End," with "Streamline" a close second. These two illustrate Taylor's lyrical approach perfectly — the first on soprano sax and the second on alto.

A nice effort from a contemporary jazz artist at the top of his game, ably assisted by some sweet and soulful sounding ladies.

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