One of the sexiest instruments in jazz can be found in the saxophone. Plus, if one takes it another further, the alto and soprano sax reigns supreme as the most romantic. Unfortunately, jazz music is proliferated with a sea of musicians who claim the horns as their instrument of choice. Most have adopted a formula made famous by Kenny G and do not have a voice of their own choosing. On top of that, in the annals of the so-called smooth contemporary style of play, very few artists are readily distinguishable from one to the other. Those that can have carved out a niche that has placed them in a highly popularized position and in a very unique category.
In some ways, that distinction has afforded them the luxury of coloring the jazz spectrum with varying degrees of melodic groove theory. One artist in particular by the name of Paul Taylor has been able to position himself as one of those special musicians. In fact, by most interpretations he is definitely in a stand-alone position. His latest CD entitled Ladies Choice continues a process of evolution and illumination that overshadows many of his contemporaries. His benchmark for success has always been his overall charisma, as well as his musical prowess on stage and in the studio.
Ladies Choice is Paul Taylor’s seventh release and his fourth overall CD for Peak Records. This time out, Paul incorporates the beauty of female vocals with the sweet melodic structure of his soprano saxophone. With the inclusion of Barry Eastman and Rex Rideout as producers, Paul features the voices of Regina Belle, La Toya London and Terry Dexter as backdrops for eleven illustrative tracks that are filled with titillating melodies and subtle grooves.
Collectively speaking, the combined talent of all these skills coming together under one recording is a tremendous achievement. On tracks such as "I Want to Be Loved (by You) and "Long Distance Relationship" featuring La Toya London and Terry Dexter respectively, the overall message of sax meeting voices is cohesive and complete.
Adding the vocal talent of veteran diva Regina Belle was another strategic jaunt into sensuous sound. Her simplistic and elegant approach to her craft melds well with the sensitivity of Paul Taylor’s unique style, especially so on the title track "Ladies Choice." In addition, the CD also includes intoxicating melodies that are augmented by harmonious musical interludes. And if those attributes are not enough, Paul Taylor adds textured solo interactives at various times on such tracks as "Summer End," "Point of View" and "Streamline" for die-hard fans waiting to be wowed by his horn.
In retrospect, Ladies Choice is yet another example of Taylor’s versatility and acceptance as one of smooth jazz’s most beloved artists. When one examines the true essence of this exceedingly beautiful CD from Paul Taylor, Ladies Choice continues a process of illumination that has placed smooth jazz on a continued path of innovative evolution. It goes without saying that this release is an enhancement to any level of collectivity and enjoyment.