A Word With
by Paula Edelstein
I first heard Paul Taylor play at the Old Pasadena Jazz Festival some years ago on a hot summer day when his debut for Peak Records was ruling the charts. He played a very smooth set and had the audience in the palm of his hands. At first glance, Paul Taylor seemed rather shy and unassuming, not nearly the image you’d have of a chart-topping smooth sax star! But when he started playing his soprano and alto saxophones, that image soon disappeared. Today, after clearly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned because of his latest contemporary hit titled STEPPIN’ OUT, Paul Taylor is still putting his instrumental and composing skills to good use in a major way. This is one smooth saxman. With 10 new songs that just take you there such as “On The Move,” “Steppin’ Out” “Night Rider,” and “Enchanted Garden” to name a few, Paul Taylor, Rex Rideout and Barry Eastmond have definitely pulled off one great set.
Born in Denver, Paul Taylor was first given major recognition when Keiko Matsui asked him to join her band. After 2 years with them, he “stepped out” out as a leader and hasn’t looked back since. The sexy star plays soprano and alto saxophones, writes, arranges and if you put it out in the world properly, makes people very happy! We spoke to Paul about STEPPIN’ OUT and some of his other interests and here’s what he had to say!
P.E.: Hi Paul, what a great way to speak to your fans…through the most universal of all languages – music! How did you develop an interest in the saxophone and why did you choose the soprano and alto saxophones to express your musical thoughts?
Paul: It goes back a long way. I got into music a long time ago when I was 7. My parents got me and my younger brother into music just to kind of keep us off the street and out of trouble. That turned into marching bands, concert bands in junior high school and high school garage bands and that kinda got me into jazz.
P.E.: On STEPPIN’ OUT you’ve teamed up with Rex Rideout and Barry Eastmond to give your listeners one very smooth set. Can you share a few of the highlights from the studio sessions with your readers?
Paul: Wow! When I worked with Rex Rideout, we were in Los Angeles and Barry Eastmond was in New York so I did a bi-coastal thing for a second there and that was cool. But when I was in L.A., one of the top moments for me was working with Luis Conte. He’s a really great guy, great to hang out with…just a really great guy. So I would say that was one of the better moments for me. When I was in New York, I worked with Barry Eastmond. He has this great backyard with deer, swans and stuff…ground hogs! That was really cool.
P.E.: Sounds like a great ambience. You know that many of your fans didn’t realize that you had worked as a very successful sideman with The Rippingtons and others before being discovered’ by Keiko Matsui at the Catalina Jazz Festival. Do you have any plans for a reunion with either of them?
Paul: Well it’s been about six months since I played with The Rippingtons but it’s been a little longer since playing with Keiko. We get together every now and then so it kind of takes care of itself. I definitely would like to do a song with her in the studio.
P.E.: You are both artistically sincere and commercially viable …and that’s definitely a duality that is uncommon among some musicians. How much of your artistic integrity do you attribute to your training and mentorship?
Paul: I’d say a lot of it. Because I just like to do the stuff I like to feel. If it sounds good to me and I’m digging it, hopefully it will sound good to someone else.
P.E.: For you, who are some of the important voices in contemporary jazz?
Paul: When I was first getting started it was Grover Washington, Jr., Ronnie Laws, David Sanborn. Later it was Michael Brecker, John Coltrane. Nowadays, it’s Seal. I just like the vibe.
P.E.: Do you plan to collaborate with other artists outside the smooth style of jazz such as straight-ahead jazz legends, jazzbeat poets, jazz choreographers, etc?
Paul: You know, it never crossed my mind but something like that would be great.
P.E.: After months of being on the road, what are some of your other interests that allow you to just get away from it all?
Paul: Just creating a nice little comfort zone at home, kicking back and relaxing. Making it comfortable with my wife of 15 years. She’s the stable side of the relationship. In the early days, she kinda pulled me along and so now it’s nice to be able to give back to her.
P.E.: Have you returned to Denver since breaking outside its boundaries as a smooth sax star? Is there a contemporary jazz scene in Denver?
Paul: Oh yes, almost every year. I get to spend a couple of days at home in Denver. They have a couple of smooth jazz stations there so there is somewhat of a scene.
P.E.: Can you share any sneak previews about what’s next for Paul Taylor?
Paul: My labelmate Cassandra Reed is guesting on my West Coast dates, and now we have a few more dates around the USA.
P.E.: That’s great for both of you. Thanks so much for the interview and once again, congratulations on STEPPIN’OUT! Keep in touch with Paul Taylor at www.paultaylorsax.com.