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Album Review

The smooth jazz messiah and saxman critics love to hate but sells millions anyway returns with a few surprises. Most of the genre's big artists know Kenny G. has great chops, but skeptics will point to the few sappy ballads here and groan, "here we go again, more of the unchallenging stuff." Those folks should check out his one tenor tune, the rockin' blues jam "Midnight Magic," whose feisty energy is about as far from a slick, bland ballad as he can get. Everyone is challenged, from the saxman to producer Walter Afanasieff (who fires up on Hammond B-3) and guitarist Phil Upchurch. A pity there aren't more tunes like that here, but in general, the saxman is on a more rhythmic and exotic plane here, beginning with the jubilant tropicality of the opener, "Brazil" (featuring a full orchestra and Afanasieff's funky keys), and extending through the flamenco-tinged romance "Spanish Nights." "Seaside Jam" and tunes like the title track combine the classic Kenny G. sound with a healthy dose of this type of groove. He has had loads of success with soulful crossover vocals and hits the mark this time with the dreamy urban adult contemporary songs "One More Time" (with Chanté Moore) and "All the Way" (with Brian McKnight). Overall, this is one of Kenny G.'s best, which will work concurrent miracles of selling yet more millions and giving his detractors a song or two they actually might enjoy.


Born: June 05, 1956 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A phenomenally successful instrumentalist whose recordings routinely made the pop, R&B, and jazz charts during the 1980s and '90s, Kenny G's sound became a staple on adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio stations. He's a fine player with an attractive sound (influenced a bit by Grover Washington, Jr.) who often caresses melodies, putting a lot of emotion into his solos. Because he does not improvise much (sticking mostly to predictable melody statements), his music largely falls outside of jazz....
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Paradise, Kenny G
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