Though he's long been vilified as the personification of all that's wrong with smooth-jazz music, saxophonist Kenny G has his strengths, namely his ability to create an affecting, simply stated, pop-jazz tune, and a playing style that is, by turns, lyrical and dexterous. There is much on Paradise (Arista) that will please G's legions of fans, including the haunting title track, the sprightly Latin-flavored "Brazil" and the vocal number "One More Time," which features some nice interaction between G and warm-voiced R&B singer Chante Moore. The album's standout track is "Midnight Magic," wherein G and a stellar array of players, including keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, pianist Randy Waldman and guitarist Phil Upchurch, engage in a rollicking soul-jazz romp.
Paradise is by no means flawless, however; while G turns in pleasant melodic performances on "Malibu Dreams," "Spanish Nights" and "Seaside Jam," the tunes are burdened with leaden, metronomic programmed rhythmic arrangements that extinguish their vitality. It's a shame the musicians on "Midnight Magic" aren't featured on more tracks-such deft ensemble playing would really enliven this album.