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Undercover

Paul Taylor

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Album Review

Not many artists would be bold enough to spend their limbo time between labels rethinking and reworking tracks produced by a legend like Maurice White, but Paul Taylor made the right decision refining four tracks on Undercover with the studio help of Russ Freeman. Redoing the entire sax melody and groove pattern on "Movin' On," Taylor engages in a dramatic mood swing halfway through the song, moving from a laid-back shuffle vibe to a swinging, percussive alto over an insistent, electronic high-hat sound; Freeman's electric guitar adds a subtle emotional emphasis. While Taylor's last album, Pleasure Seeker, featured loads of attractive trip-hop atmosphere along with synth and percussion effects, sparseness is the buzzword this time. On "Ariel," his silky soprano makes a potent melodic statement that stands out far ahead in the mix from the barely audible, floating atmospheres, the hypnotic synth-bell pattern, and the water-drop percussion effects. Dino Esposito and Scott Rammer, who produced the last album, helm a few tunes here, but they don't overwhelm Taylor this time. A cover of Janet Jackson's "Velvet Rope," for instance, is trip-hoppy in overall vibe, but the electronic percussion merely pitter-patters gently behind Taylor's squealing soprano; Brian Monroney chimes in with a mournful steel string presence and synth vibes bubble in the distant background.

Biography

Born: 1972 in Denver, CO

Genre: Jazz

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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Undercover, Paul Taylor
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