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Album Review

Smooth jazz saxophonist Paul Taylor leaned a bit more than usual toward pop on his 2007 album Ladies' Choice, using the title concept to bring in a bevy of female vocalists, and he was rewarded with his first number-one ranking on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart. He pulls back a little from that stance on the follow-up, Burnin', employing fewer vocals, but otherwise the changes are modest from what has been a winning commercial formula. Longtime producers Barry Eastmond and Rex Rideout, who are expected to construct the instrumental beds over which Taylor solos, have taken a somewhat retrospective tone on some of the tracks, signaling their intentions by calling the first song "Back in the Day" and the second "Revival." This sort of music always sounds a bit like '70s soul with the vocals stripped off and a saxophone added, but Eastmond and Rideout go even more in that direction here, de-emphasizing the usual synth programming in favor of more real musicians. Taylor, for his part, changes instruments, opting for a tenor saxophone most of the time, in place of his usual soprano and alto, and the deeper, slightly harsher sound leads him to recall (just a little bit) a predecessor like Junior Walker on "Groove Shack." Still, the title comes off as an exaggeration. Taylor's playing, and the music itself, are not "burnin'"; "smoldering" would be more like it.


Born: 1972 in Denver, CO

Genre: Spoken Word

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Paul Taylor grew up in Denver, where he took up the saxophone at the age of seven. He played in school bands, and in high school joined a Top 40 band called Mixed Company. Jazz keyboardist Keiko Matsui and her husband, producer Kazu Matsui, discovered him playing at the Catalina Island Jazz Festival and hired him to play in their band. He spent two years with them, and then Kazu Matsui produced his 1995 debut album, On the Horn, which reached the jazz charts and spawned a radio hit in "Til We Meet...
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Burnin', Paul Taylor
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