James Taylor loves his work. The title of his latest album says as much, but Taylor expressed it in a far more exuberant and convincing manner Saturday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Buoyed by a kind of infectious enthusiasm, he sang for more than 2 1/2 hours, beginning with a simple, engaging acoustic set that combined finely crafted tunes, such as "Carolina on My Mind," and sweet surprises, such as the definitive doo-wopper "Get a Job," outfitted in satiny three-part harmonies.
Though in fine voice -- his smoky tenor caressed the ballads and tore into the rockers -- Taylor really didn't begin to move with the music until his top-flight band joined him, featuring, among others, his producer Peter Asher on percussion, Little Feat's Bill Payne on keyboards, and Waddy Wachtel, somewhat incapacitated by a broken foot, on guitar.
The band cut a wide swath through Taylor's recordings, moving from the call to arms "Stand Up" to the gentle sway of "Up on the Roof" to a seemingly endless string of hits. They blew the lid off "Steamroller Blues" and bowed out quietly when Taylor earnestly reprised "Fire and Rain" or the encore "You've Got a Friend." If Taylor has grown the least bit tired of working the road, he's a master at concealing it.