Paul Taylor is smooth jazz’s sexy beast, and he plays to that reputation with Ladies’ Choice, yet another collection of smooth grooves, fireplace ballads and energetic rug-burners. For the third CD in a row, Taylor has enlisted the smooth superstar production team of Rex Rideout and Barry Eastmond, who assure that the crisp music has an easy familiarity.
Perhaps sensing that things may be getting too familiar, Taylor crosses over into Urban AC territory on five tracks with the help of four female vocalists: Regina Belle, Terry Dexter, Lauren Evans and American Idol fourth-place finisher LaToya London. Unfortunately, four of the five are unremarkable thanks to uninspired lyrics and Taylor’s predictable warbling over the top. The Average White Band’s “A Love of Your Own” with Evans is choice only because it offers everything the others don’t: a good groove and serviceable lyrics.
Primarily known for his affinity for the soprano, Taylor opts for the deeper alto on the majority of tracks, both vocal and instrumental. It’s on the latter, of course, where Taylor earns his keep with what’s worked in the past, mostly on driving tracks such as “Streamline,” “Overdrive” and “Point of View.” Taylor has produced some of the best smooth-jazz songs of the past decade, including the memorable “Exotica,” “Avenue,” “Aerial” and “Night Rider.” There’s nothing here of that caliber. Taylor might want to look for a new team to bring back some excitement.