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Paul Taylor: Steppin’ Out

Smooth-jazz saxophonist Paul Taylor possesses an attractive, plaintive sound, which is amply in evidence on Steppin’ Out (Peak). Taylor worked with top producers Rex Rideout and Barry Eastmond, and together they placed Taylor’s honey-toned instrument in some interesting settings. On the sprightly, bouncy, horn-accented title track, the sax rides a pulsing groove, and it sings sweetly on the dramatic, pretty “Hacienda.” Elsewhere, things just lope along on the spacious, unhurried “Speakeasy,” a tune that features Taylor on alto sax. Three tracks, including the haunting “Night Rider” and wistful “Enchanted Garden,” feature Taylor on vocoder, which adds an interesting retro element to the otherwise contemporary production. The romantic vocal track “Someone Watching Over You,” which is sung by Sharon Youngblood, includes Jonathan Butler on guitar, but he’s not prominent in the mix. It’s hard to understand why such a gifted guitarist isn’t given even one solo, and he feels wasted on this rather busy tune.

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