A paradigm shift implies a move into a new framework, and so the organ trio Paradigm Shift is probably misnamed, as there is nothing particularly evolutionary about what it does. Shifting Times is, however, a captivating session of mainly original compositions that owes a great deal to the Blue Note soul jazz of the late '60s. Equal parts Jimmy Smith, Grant Green and Donald Byrd, Paradigm Shift does manage to pay homage without being completely imitative, and that is where the shift may come in; as reverential as Shifting Times is, it succeeds in feeling completely contemporary.
Guitarist Melvin Henderson, organist Gerry Youngman (who also doubles on flugelhorn), and drummer Ted Poor make up Paradigm Shift, but they enlist the assistance of some high profile players to juice up a session that is, quite simply, a load of fun, with sumptuous grooves and solid playing from all. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon plays hard and heavy on four tracks, growling vigorously on "Sandu." Trumpeter Marcus Printup jabs and parries with Gordon on the same track, plays it lyrical on the Crusaders-informed "Half a World Away," and contributes a piercing muted solo on "First Shift." Vibraphonist Joe Locke pays tribute to Bobby Hutcherson on "Yesterdays" and the slap-happy "Big Brother."
Henderson is a capable player in the Grant Green vein, although there are smatterings of Kenny Burrell, and even Wes Montgomery, in what he does. His tone is clean and warm, and his ideas flow effortlessly, with a spare economy that occasionally lights a fire, as on the up-tempo "Why Not Scrambled." Youngman, an energetic and vivacious organist throughout the set, manages to play his flugelhorn brightly yet tenderly on "My Foolish Heart," which finds him in duet with Henderson. Poor is a groove-centric drummer, equal parts swing and backbeat.
While Paradigm Shift may not break down any musical barriers, these players know how to have a good time, and that is evident throughout Shifting Times. There's a party atmosphere to the record that makes it an entertaining listen. Playful and unassuming, Shifting Times is the perfect music when you're looking for something to engage the body as well as the mind.
Track Listing: Sandu; Yesterdays; Sanibel Breeze; Half a World Away; Shifting Times; Big Brother; First Shift; Simplistic Blues; Why Not Scrambled; Petra's Lament; My Foolish Heart
Personnel: Melvin Henderson (guitar), Gerry Youngman (organ, flugelhorn), Ted Poor (drums) With guests: Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Joe Locke (vibraphone), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Bill Tiberio (saxophones)
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