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Paul Taylor, Steppin' Out (Peak)
This is absolutely orthodox smooth jazz, which means that the critics will hate it, anyone who already despises the genre will have all their prejudices confirmed, and saxophonist Paul Taylor's fans will lap it up. It's wind down from work music, whether from car stereo or expensive home hi-fi. Comfortable, suburban, and, within the limits it sets itself, highly successful. Taylor has a light, romantic tone; there is a lyrical quality to the tunes and a post-fusion aesthetic that stresses gentle rhythms and easiness of mood. "Steppin' Out" and "Let's Go out Tonight" have a softened-Crusaders feel and should suit FM radio particularly well. "Speakeasy" is a little tougher and more soulful. "Hacienda" and "Cantina" are mildly Latinised, and the statutory vocal track "Someone Watching over You" is rather wet. Yet individual tracks hardly matter. Either you like losing yourself in the dreamy, undemanding ethos of Taylor's (always accomplished) playing or it is just so much banal tosh. Though it is certainly background music, I found Steppin' Out pleasantly soothing rather than merely irritating, and so wish it and Mr. Taylor well.