Paul Taylor has just one question for his fans who have been burnin’ for more since his last hit album in 2009: Are you ready for Prime Time? A true force of nature in urban AC Jazz, Paul Taylor has been on one of the most successful runs of his 15 year recording career, scoring his first # 1 ever on the Billboard contemporary jazz chart with Ladies Choice (2007) and hitting # 1 on the airplay charts with the title track from Burnin’. Fresh from kickin’ it up live these past few summers as part of the Gentlemen of the Night tour, Taylor is keeping things soulful, funky and innovative as ever on his sixth album, Prime Time.
Pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara, whose passionate and incendiary keyboard work has been a shining light on the jazz landscape since her 2003 debut, believes that the voice that never speaks can sometimes be the most powerful of all. Her newest release, simply titled Voice, expresses a range of human emotions without the aid of a single lyric.
Although a mesmerizing instrumentalist in her own right, Hiromi enlists the aid of two equally formidable players for this project – bassist Anthony Jackson (Paul Simon, the O’Jays, Steely Dan, Chick Corea) and drummer Simon Phillips (the Who, Judas Priest, David Gilmour, Jack Bruce). Taken as a whole, the individual tracks on Voice do tell a story, says Hiromi, but she’s quick to note that the story is open-ended and subject to interpretations. ‘I’m not talking about a story in the sense of a novel,’ she says. ‘People can just listen to it and decide how it reflects their own lives. They can just imagine whatever the music makes them imagine. That’s the beautiful thing about music without words. It’s just a matter of using your imagination, finding your own voice within the music, and traveling with it wherever it takes you.’
Since the mid-1980s, pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias (pronounced eh-lee-AH-neh eh-LEE-ahs) has grafted various elements of jazz, pop, soul and other styles to her deep Brazilian roots to create a hybrid groove that exists comfortably on any hemisphere. Borrowing from an array of sources and singing in a variety of languages, Elias consistently forges a sound that appeals to listeners of every geographic locale and cultural persuasion.
Her new album, Light My Fire – wields this universal sound to explore the various corners of the human heart – from romance and passion to the shared joy of being alive and embracing everyone into the dance of life. Along with four compositions written or co-written by Elias herself, the album also includes covers of familiar works by songwriters as diverse as Jim Morrison and the Doors, pop icon Stevie Wonder, and jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond. Elias weaves it all together into a cohesive whole by injecting each of the twelve songs with distinctly Brazilian grooves that alternate effortlessly between the fiery and passionate to the cool and sophisticated.