From the sound of things, "Paradise" is a congenial kind of place. Barry Wedgle, a name Dante would hardly have used, leads his band through an amiable array of musical pieces that are soft, but not fluffy, and contented, not agitated. This doesn’t mean that everything is light as a feather; it’s just a space where ideas are explored in a relaxed way. The title track is an extended opus on this exploration. It is melodious yet placid in a hypnotic fashion. It is done in a way that is simple and graceful. ‘Paradise’ is carefully crafted such that any lesser composer or band would have made it sound like a repetitious Hell.
There is conflict in Paradise, as on the peculiarly titled track, ‘Dumpling’ where there is throbbing repetition that smirks of something sinister, but hardly diabolic or foreboding. It is kind of like thinking: "hey, things are not all what they are cranked up to be in Heaven." Maybe the dumplings are soggy or the feeling of "how in the world did this guy ever make it up here?"
‘Elegentidous’ is serene, beginning with recorded seagulls swirling in space which is cleverly replaced by a meandering tenor saxophone that has both lovely and discordant elements. But, overall, it tends to flop around in search of a plausible idea that is never quite fleshed out.
The final track, ‘America the Brittle’ is less lofty, more rooted in earthier pursuits. It is an edgy piece in which the saxophone resembles something that Sonny Rollins would have played. It has guts and grime, but it feels like home. And maybe that’s what Paradise is all about.