|BACK||By: Cheryl Boone Norfolk Jazz Festival|
Photos By: Kevin Francis July 22, 2011
In a sweltering 108 degree temperature, more than 3,000 smooth jazz lovers gathered in Norfolk, VA's Town Point Park for the 29th Annual Norfolk Jazz Festival, sponsored by The City of Norfolk & Festevents. The Friday evening festival kicked off with the "Gentlemen of the Night", Marion Meadows, Warren Hill and Paul Taylor. In between sets, Smooth Jazz Magazine caught up with Paul Taylor to talk about his recently released CD, "Prime Time", which is already making a major buzz. Taylor's first release from Prime Time, "Push To Start", is charting at #2 on Billboard and quickly on its way to the #1 spot.
SJM: How did you choose "Push To Start" as your first release?
Paul: Well when you work on an album, you get a bunch of songs and you try to find some cohesiveness and vibes between them, and then you just go with it like that. Then the record company approves it. I'd put my heart into the recordings and you hope that the record label ultimately picks the right song to release. That's a long way of saying that the record label and your manager makes the decision of what's released.
SJM: It's been 2 years since you released "Burnin". How did you come up with your current title, "Prime Time" and its concept?
Paul: When I did "Burnin" in 09' we decided to go with the retro, back in the day kind of sound and I did that one on mostly tenor, which was a new sound; I never played that before. On "Prime Time" I wanted to get back to my core sound, alto and soprano, and so in doing that I went from the hip and happening to "Prime Time".
SJM: You're back with your old co-writing partner, Dino Esposito. Why was he right for this particular project?
Paul: We go back far; back to my first CD. I had worked with him on a few albums and again I wanted to go back and reestablish my core sound and I wanted to bring Dino back into the mix too.
SJM: "Prime Time" has a little bit of everything from classic Paul Taylor, to little Neo-Soul to RnB. Were you going for a crossover appeal?
Paul: Yes in all my albums I think it's always good to have that open door and have at least 1 or 2 songs that will have that crossover appeal.
SJM: Your sound on "Prime Time" has been compared to Kenny G. How do you feel about that comparison?
Paul: I'm totally honored by that compliment. He had a very big influence on me and contrary to what a lot of people may or may not feel, I think he's great and I appreciate his artistry and work and he influence me a lot.
SJM: Since you mentioned Kenny G, who else has influenced you?
Paul: Najee, Grover, David Sanborn; on the other side Michael Brecker and folks like Patrice Rushen, Brother Johnson. Right now the Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry....
Gentlemen Of The Night
"Warren Hill, Marion Meadows & Paul Taylor"
SJM: So you're kind of all over the place and pull your inspirations from wherever you hear something that hits you?
Paul: Right. Whether it's Funk, New Soul, Smooth Jazz, RnB, Pop with or without vocals, whatever kind of bag it is I want it to be hip and happening like top shelf/Prime Time.
SJM: Speaking of top shelf, tell me about "Laronda"?
Paul: Well that was written for my wife of course; 23 years. And I always put like a blurb in my liner notes thanking Laronda for all her support and this time it just kind of happened magically that I was writing a song with The Heavyweights they had a track and it already had some vocals in it, but it had the same type of syllables and I said "hey lets kind of change it up because I'd like to write it for my wife. the original name was Clarita, which means dearly, dear, dearest whatever. So we changed the name to Laronda and we changed the whole song to be a tribute to her. Most songs, to me when people dedicate them to a lady or whatever it;s usually a ballad but I didn't want to do that because she's energetic and peppy and I wanted to relect her personality.
SJM: You have a lot of vocals on this album...
Paul: Yes "Ladies Choce" had a few vocals on it and I wanted to have a couple of vocals on this one too. I love the vocals, but I had to find the right balance because I didn't want the vocals overshadowing the sax because then the vocals get credit and there's nothing else. But I think there is a pretty good balance this time.
SJM: You mentioned The Heavyweighs earlier. How did you hook up with them and Jamie Jones?
Paul: My manager Eddie Howard represents Jamie Jones and they had worked on Wayne Brady's album "Ordinary Love", and it was a hit for him. And they had done a great job with it and I said aw man, let's give it a try.
SJM: And on “Horizon” you worked with both Steve Oliver & Esposito. How was it working with them together?
Paul: Well Steve Oliver had me on his first record and I wanted to feature him here and find the right track and I think I did. Both Steve and Dino were in their own studios and got together through Skype and went back and forth and they made the adjustments needed and it all came together naturally.
SJM: One of my favorite vocal tracks on “Prime Time” is “Space”.
Paul: Yeah, yeah the woman’s anthem, lol
SJM: lol yeah I know right! What’s your favorite song on this project?
Paul: Oh my gosh, I don’t want to say lol….
SJM: Okay, a couple of your favorites, lol?
Paul: Aw okay, “Laronda”, “Push to Start”, and “Space” I would have to say are favorites.
SJM: And you did a remake of “And I Love Her”. How did you decide to choose that as your cover tune?
Paul: Well it was actually a cover song of Kings of Leon about 2 years ago and they got a Grammy for it. It was a beautiful song and we changed it and made it a little more of a ballad and it worked for the overall album and was a good closing song.
SJM: What do you want to tell your fans about “Prime Time”?
Paul: That I’m ready for “Prime Time” and I hope you they are too. Grab a hold and enjoy the ride.
SJM: Before we go, tell me about the CD Contest and the trip to Hollywood?
Paul: Oh yeah, just go to my site, http://paultaylorsax.com/buzz/, click on WIN A TRIP and then you actually register by clicking on the “Push To Start” icon.
As Paul went back to continue the Gentlemen of The Night show, the audience screamed and applauded letting him know they are definitely ready for “Prime Time”!
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