Twenty-one years ago when Paul Taylor released his hit debut album, On The Horn, it wouldn’t have been hard to imagine that here was a smooth jazz star in the making. His instantly identifiable sax tones, infectious melodies, cutting edge production and dynamic live performances foretold an impressive career that would catapult him to the top of the charts again and again.
Of course, while many potential greats electrify their audiences initially only to fade into oblivion as “one hit wonders,” Paul has managed to build a 20-year career that has aged like fine wine. With the release of his 10th CD, the aptly titled Tenacity, he remains a fresh and vital force in contemporary urban jazz, with this CD hitting the top ten on the charts in 2014.
From the start of his recording career, Taylor created a signature sound that was ever cool and deeply soulful, with a rhythmic trip-hop sound influenced by working with some of pop, urban jazz and R&B’s top producers, including Dino Esposito, Rex Rideout, Barry J. Eastmond and The Heavyweights.
One of the most important architects of the saxman Taylors’s core flow has been Dino Esposito, who helped Taylor establish his vibe in On The Horn and on Pleasure Seekers two years later. Esposito also played a powerful role in Taylor’s evolution by helming tracks on his subsequent recordings Undercover (2000), his Peak Records’ debut Hypnotic (2001) Nightlife (2005) and Prime Time (2010).
Taylor has a long history of bringing his favorite jazz artists to the mix and he continued that inspiring tradition on the recently released Tenacity CD by inviting keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen to add his lush piano harmonies to the easy flowing soprano-driven opening track, Supernova.
Long a mainstay among the most popular and elite artists, Paul Taylor has been on an exhilarating upswing of his career over the past eight years. His 2007 album, Ladies’ Choice, was just the first of his #1 hits on Billboard Contemporary Jazz. In 2009, he struck lightning again. Burnin’, the title track, hit #1 on the airplay charts and he topped that off when Push to Start from Prime Time landed in the pole position on the Smooth Jazz Chart. In December 2012, the Denver native and longtime basketball enthusiast achieved another dream when he performed the National Anthem in Madison Square Garden at a NY Knicks game.
In 1994, after appearing at the Catalina Island Jazz Festival, popular keyboard artist, Keiko Matsui and her producer/husband, Kazu, were so enthralled with Taylor’s charismatic performance, they asked him to record and tour with them. This eventually spawned the #1 radio hit Till We Meet Again.
Taylor’s mix of funk and sensuality was a natural fit for the emerging jazz genre and he soon became one of its core artists.
Although Taylor has become one of the most popular live attractions as a solo artist, he eagerly accepted Russ Freeman’s invitation to tour with The Rippingtons as a special guest artist in 2000, the year he released his third album, Undercover.
Today, Paul’s solo and collaborative gigs are as varied as his melodic and soulful tunes. His venues range from small clubs and private in-home concerts to huge urban Jazz festivals and venues where his brand of smooth Jazz continues to exhilarate appreciative audiences. Taylor’s mix of funk and sensuality have become a mainstay of smooth Jazz as he continues to redefine a genre he clearly owns.
With history known to repeat itself, Paul Taylor will continue to thrill urban jazz aficionados in live performances and on CDs with the kind of talent and Tenacity that have made him a recognizable superstar of smooth jazz.