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  • Jonathan Widran

EVAN CARYDAKIS, "Paradise Beach"

Just a playful personal caveat before getting into the joyous, in the pocket, sizzle funk of “Paradise Beach,” Melbourne born saxophonist Evan Carydakis’ a perfect high energy party jam for Summer 2024. Music journalists/critics are by no means prophets, but there’s always a giddy sense of excitement when we discover a phenomenal new artist, predict big things and watch and listen as that hopeful prediction is fulfilled. Reviewing “Movin’ On” in 2022, I wrote, “Look for him to become a major force in smooth jazz in coming years!”

Guess what? Starting with that fresh single, he’s experienced a lot of solid action on the genre charts, the first step towards wider popularity and impact. Not to overly immerse in stats, but they’re increasingly impressive. “Movin’ On” hit #42 on the Radio Wave Top 100 Album Chart, #54 on the Smooth Jazz Top 100 Album Chart and #17 on the Smooth Jazz Radar Chart, cementing Evan as a global TOP 50 Smooth Jazz artist. And the equally amazing “Cherry Pops” hit #1 on the Smooth Jazz Global 30 Below Chartbound Chart, #6 on the Smooth Jazz Global Radar Chart, #28 Smooth Jazz Global Top 100 Album Chart and #34 Radio Wave Top 100 Groove Jazz Album Chart.

As an added bonus – and one of the reasons “Cherry Pops” resonated not only with me personally but listeners who embraced it - the song was a tribute to/celebration of life for Cherry, his beloved Australian Kelpie who fought a valiant battle with canine lymphoma. To turn that loss and its sorrow into a high energy funk tune was a masterwork of beautiful life affirming genius.  

With “Paradise Beach,” all sadness is long in the past and Evan – working once again with his versatile keyboardist/producer Michael Whittaker – is in a lighthearted celebratory mood/musical mode from the punchy start, extolling the glorious, calming yet fast swirling virtues of his inspirational locale. From the punchy blast of sunlight in the first notes and grooves (courtesy of stellar drummer Stacey Sydnor), the track offers a soundtrack to a mega-fun day on the shimmering white sand on the Greek isle of Mykonos.

Evan beckons us to sway, dance and dream as we feel the Mediterranean breeze and take in the translucent turquoise water. The saxophonist plays musical tour guide to our exploration of a place TripAdvisor says is synonymous with beaches and parties.

More from TripAdvisor, which should put Evan’s track up on this page right away. “During the day you can chill by the beach and spend time on water activities such as banana boat rides and jet ski jaunts. Several scuba diving excursions and beach-hopping tours also set off from here. Come late afternoon, the buzzing party atmosphere kicks in as bars and clubs welcome partygoers until sunrise.”

Evan makes it fun to visualize the nighttime festivities kicking in. Not long after sunset is when the true explosive melodic and funky magic of Evan’s tune really kicks in. For those who want to stay near the beach, his robust tenor blazes like the torches surrounding an imagined outdoor dance platform. Inside the clubs, we can likewise experience the DJs turning on the sound system full blast and everyone hitting the floor, dancing like crazy and sweating up a storm in the best possible way. Another delightful part of “Paradise Beach” is when Evan’s sax dynamics give way to a stellar, all too short solo by trumpeter Giovanni Rodriguez, whose horn is backed by some old school soul-jazz mystical vibes from Whittaker’s keys. Also on board is Phil Hughley, whose rhythm guitar is one of the song’s driving forces.  

No doubt, if the song inspires listeners to look on Trip Advisor for the cost of a vacation to Mykonos, it’s gonna be expensive. So why not just put on Evan Carydakis’ next sure fire smooth jazz hit – truly among the genre’s most infectious summer songs this year – close your eyes and imagine you’re right there on “Paradise Beach” listening to this amazing (and highly cost-effective!) track!



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