If you like your jazz music sensual and romantic, then Paul Taylor’s CD Ladies’ Choice will cause your heart to flutter. The alto saxophonist does not need to rely on sleazy lyrics or music that invites sexually titillating body gyrations because he creates smooth melodies and lays them over deep grooves.
If you are old enough to remember and appreciate the sound of a young Whitney Houston’s voice before she met Bobby Brown and her life was derailed, then you are going to absolutely fall in love with the gorgeous vocals of LaToya London singing the second track "I Want To Be Loved (By You)." It has been a long time since someone has recorded a love song with this much tenderness and soul. Barry Eastmond’s arrangements create a passionate dialogue between Taylor’s saxophone and London’s vocals. Melodie Eastmond helps out with the background vocals. "Here We Go" has a melody that hooks you with the first few bars. Reggie Hamilton lays down a quiet but moving bass line and Phil Hamilton’s guitar riffs are smooth.
If LaToya London’s vocal performance, Paul Taylor’s sweet notes and Barry Eastmond’s arrangements aren’t enough to hook you, then when one of the leading ladies of R&B and soul Regina Belle takes center stage to sing "How Did You Know," you will be smitten with this beautiful record. Belle during the course of her career has garnered six top ten R&B hits, "Show Me The Way" (# 2--1987), "Baby Come To Me" (# 1--1989), a duet with Peabo Bryson, "Make It Like It Was" (# 1 1989), "This Is Love" (# 7 1990), "What Goes Around" (# 3 1990) and "If I Could" (# 9 1993). Four more Belle songs have reached the top thirty. Although she seems to have fallen off the charts in recent years, one listen to Belle beautifully and evocatively sing "How Did You Know," has you asking why. Let’s hope this song charts well so that both Taylor and Belle can receive the recognition that they deserve.
Belle reappears on a later track to sing "Open Your Eyes." Her phrasing of the words, "I’m here waiting for you / to see just who I am / and what I can be / I love you unconditionally.... " is gentle and as she holds the note for the word "be" you are left waiting breathlessly to hear what she will say next.
What makes the vocal tracks on this album work so well is Taylor is not merely accompanying the singer and taking a backseat, but it is more like you are eavesdropping on a conversation between two lovers. Singer Lauren Evans puts in a solid and more ethereal performance on "A Love Of Your Own," while Terry Dexter’s heartbreaking singing of "Long Distance Relationship" is classic.
For those who like their jazz straight up sans vocals, there are several good tracks that will cause you to bend your ear closer to the speaker, including the beautiful "Summer’s End" and the up tempo "Overdrive." If I was voting for the Most Romantic CD of the Year right now, Paul Taylor’s Ladies’ Choice would win hands down.