Contemporary Jazz

Hunk Of Burnin' Love

08 JUL 09 JONATHAN WIDRAN

The title of saxman Paul Taylor's latest Peak Records release Burnin' inspires many metaphorical possibilities. His ecstatic female fans have especially been doing so with great desire since the sensual and charismatic, dreadlocked performer burst onto the urban jazz scene in the mid-'90s.

Then there's those smoky horn lines and fiery grooving both onstage and in the studio with his favorite R&B producers Rex Rideout and Barry Eastmond, who have split the tracking on Taylor's past four albums. Taylor's career is in smolder mode as well. His 2007 set Ladies' Choice marked his first ever #1 (and #1 debut) on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. He's been part of the hugely popular Norman Brown Summer Storm tours in 2006 and 2008 and this summer is out jamming on the Gentlemen of the Night tour with Marion Meadows and Michael Lington.

Beyond all those applications, the real Burnin' takes place on these 10 new tracks. The overall flow is as inviting and seductive as the title of the cheerful, summery old-school opener track "Back In The Day," but Taylor is also making the most powerful and robust musical statements of his career -- playing lead tenor rather than his customary soprano and alto, on almost every track for the first time.

This shift came via a happy accident -- the soprano he brought to New York to work with Eastmond was damaged en route. Launching a more emotionally satisfying chapter in Taylor's career, the energy of the disc is reflected perfectly on the thumping gospel flavored "Revival" and the R&B party blast "Groove Shack."

Look for Burnin' when it hits stores July 21 and catch him on tour now.

in this playlist.