With all the wondrous commotion swirling these past few years around
Paul Taylor and his sensuous and seductive sax style, it's amazing to
realize that he's only a few recordings into his solo career. His
earlier albums, "On The Horn" (1995) and "Pleasure
Seeker" (1997), each had three tracks that climbed to the top of
the NAC radio charts. Rather than enter the new era just riding the same
wave that's earned him such critical and commercial acclaim, Taylor's
restless creativity led him to fashion an even stronger urban vibe
around his horns on his dynamic Peak/N-Coded Music debut
Taylor has long believed in the art of collaboration, challenging his own musical visions with the welcome input of new writers and producers. Taylor wasn't about to forget the magic he created throughout "Pleasure Seeker" with producers Dino Esposito and Scot Rammer; on "Undercover", the duo produces an hypnotic, atmospheric cover of Janet Jackson's "Velvet Rope" as well as the dreamy funk flow of the Taylor original "Indigo." Famed R&B producer Oji Pierce co-wrote and produced "Deeper" on "Pleasure Seeker", and contributes his studio expertise on Undercover's title track. Hoping to expand his scope, Taylor also works with behind the boards talents Kurt Jackson (of Portrait), Michael Angelo Saulsberry, and the tandem of Bill Meyers and the legendary Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire.
"I wanted to head into an even heavier urban direction, with heavy beats and funk, while still keeping the vibe jazzy and cool," says Taylor. "I knew that bringing in different producers would drive me to be my best as both a composer and player, as well as open my mind to new ideas. Bouncing them off new, objective collaborators makes the music so much more interesting. It was especially thrilling working with Maurice, who was a childhood idol of mine."
Taylor's approach to the tunes he did with Esposito and Rammer was the same as on "Pleasure Seeker"--they worked on them together, from the ground up. But he took a whole different tack this time in creating the others. "My manager, Andi Howard, suggested a handful of names and I listened to tracks that various interested producers submitted," Taylor adds. "If I liked the sound and foundation, I would use them as open slates to write the saxophone melody over."
Listeners who study production notes might be puzzled about the four songs produced by White and Meyers; a lower credit reads "additional recording and production by Russ Freeman." The explanation is testament to Taylor's desire that every element be just right. These songs--"Aerial", "Movin' On", "Code Blue" and "Looking Glass"--were remixed in the studio and Taylor found ways to make them even fresher.
"I decided to remix those songs and do a new keyboard track on "Movin' On,"along with a new sax melody. I used some of the existing tracks, and some new ones and the result is tunes stronger than what I had originally."
Strong tunes have long been one of the saxman's true fortes, and Undercover perfectly charts his growth as a songwriter, even as his playing and the production evolves. The opening tune, "Aerial," features a vintage silky soprano performance mingled with a gentle electric guitar harmony and subtle percussion textures, including the exotic touches of bells and a gong. Fans of "Pleasure Seeker" will love the swaying, hypnotic atmospheres, irresistible trip-hop groove and wistful soprano seduction of "Velvet Rope." Because his biggest radio hits have been soprano based tunes, Taylor is often thought of as a soprano saxman; "Movin' On," which features the guitars of Russ Freeman and percussion of Munyungo Jackson, gives Taylor the perfect showcase to display his more aggressive alto side.
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