A tropical breeze prevails over vibist/marimbist Dave Samuel's airy opener "One Step Ahead," forecasting the fair weather ahead for Paraiso. As on the Caribbean Jazz Project's last outing, New Horizons, a rollicking rhythm section joins co-leaders Samuels, flutist Dave Valentin and guitarist Steve Khan.
Paraiso is a mix of reinvented standards and solid original material. John Coltrane's "Naima" is initially a cha-cha under the Caribbean influence before guest-artist and flugelhornist Ray Vega enters the song and returns it to its origins. Guitarist Khan brings us the tougher "Maluco," and his edginess contrasts with the softer, marimbafied mood of Samuel's "Five for Elvin," which features Richie Flores' congas and Dafnis Prieto and Luisito Quintero's timbales.
Caribbean Jazz Project travels to the Latin American isles for "Jamboree" and "C -ni-mo!" and ends up soaring on the high-flying rhythms of the closer "Obaricoso/Ritmos, Colores y Sentidos"-a breathtaking climax to the trip provided by the super-energized percussionists who pilot Paraiso.