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Unless you're from Rochester, NY, you've probably never heard of Paradigm Shift. With its first national release, Shifting Times , the organ-guitar-drums trio is ready to introduce the rest of the country to its upbeat brand of mainstream soul jazz.
Paradigm Shift's core is guitarist Melvin Henderson and organist Gerry Youngman. Both men have spent time backing big namesHenderson behind folks like Al Jarreau and Roy Ayers, Youngman with Chuck Mangione, Gary Burton, and Thad Jones, to name a few. Since coming together as a unit in the late '80s, the duo has served as one of Rochester's most dependable bands, filling in with visiting artists like saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, trumpeter Marcus Printup, and vibraphonist Joe Locke.
The new CD capitalizes on that shared history, with many of their headlining friends from the jazz world making guest appearances. Gordon and Locke get a workout on a funky version of Stevie Wonder's "Big Brother," while Printup makes his presence felt on Clifford Brown's "Sandu" and the Youngman original "Half A World Away."
Powering this aggregation is the powerful and assured drumming of Ted Poor. A recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Poor is already establishing himself on the New York City scene with Ben Monder and as a regular member of trumpeter Cuong Vu's band. He's a creative player who can find the "one" no matter where his drumming takes him. Write his name down; you'll be seeing it again.
While Shifting Times has a few standards"Sandu," Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," and "My Foolish Heart"the majority of the music was written by Henderson and Youngman. The organist's "Sanibel Breeze" slides a jaunty melody for trombone and organ over the chords of Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings," while Henderson shines as a writer on "Petra's Lament," a tune written for his wife.
Paradigm Shift doesn't really shift any paradigms, but the group does have a great time playing fun music. If you like solid grooves, confident soloing and engaging melodies, join the folks in Rochester and become a fan of Shifting Times.
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 Wycliffe
Gordon (trombone), Joe Locke (vibraphone), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Bill Tiberio (saxophones)
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.