James Taylor recording an album of standards, says Garth Brooks convinced him to play Vegas

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Nicholas Hunt/Getty ImagesJames Taylor hasn't released a new album since 2015's Before This World -- his first #1 album, by the way -- but now word comes that he's working on a collection of standards.

Speaking about the new project, James tells Entertainment Weekly, "They're songs I've known for years...what's great about these standards is that it's not about production value or backbeat. They hold your interest and connect with you through really sophisticated changes. The lyrics are fantastic. They're the epitome of American popular song."

And while James is no slouch on guitar himself, he's teamed with legendary jazz musician John Pizzarelli for the project, calling him a "great, great old school jazz guitarist with unbelievably deep skills."

Meanwhile, Taylor will kick off a 12-date residency in Las Vegas on April 17 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.  Playing Sin City is something James' pal Garth Brooks convinced him to try after Brooks did his own residency and loved it.

"He thought I'd love it and he had been really surprised by it,"  Taylor explains. 

James admits, "I was a Vegas snob forever, for sure," but notes, "It's now a town of two million people. It's not just the strip; there's an actual population there, and it's just an excellent place to put on a show."

The show will be a "retrospective," he says, adding, "It's an opportunity to really put on our most elaborate and most complete presentation. This particular staging that we're going to present is something we've essentially been perfecting over the past couple of years."

Taylor also says he'd be open to more Vegas shows in the future if this run of performances is a hit.

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