PAUL TAYLOR: Burnin’ (Label: Peak)


The modern soul brigade love scanning jazz albums for an elusive, exclusive track that might surprise and delight their peers. You see, UK modern soulsters ( for reasons that escape me) like to play the one-upmanship game … so those who play seriously should seek out sax man Paul Taylor’s new set – pronto, since it opens with a real gem that will surprise and delight not just the competitive modern soul crew but all who dig the big, soul groove. The cut – ‘Back In The Day’ – is a no-punches-pulled attempt by Taylor and co-writer and producer Barry Eastmond to create a real retro feeling, reminiscent of mellow period Tower Of Power. It has a lovely, warm feel to it and its tight beats will satisfy the dancers. Billy Cliff gets the vocal just right too while keen listeners might just spot the drum opening from ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’. The good news is that there’s more big, solid soul grooves on the album – ‘Revival’ and the title cut being the best. ‘Groove Shack’ is another goodie – looser and with a party atmosphere, it made me smile and think of the great Junior Walker. ‘Remember The Love’ is the best slowie while the only cover – War’s ‘Me And Baby Brother’ works well too. Those tunes (and indeed the rest) make ‘Burnin’ one of the year’s best smooth jazz albums to date – but “smooth” isn’t the best way to describe the groove-heavy music… its excellence, perhaps, is best explained by the use of the same tight rhythm section almost throughout – Darrell Crooks (guitar), Michael White (drums) and Melvin Lee Davis or Ronnie Garrett (bass). They nail every cut, providing just the right feeling for Taylor to float his warm, resonant tenor over. ‘Burnin’ is out now.
(BB) 4/5