Paradigm Shift
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Paradigm Shift

Rochester, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | INDIE

Rochester, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Jazz Acid Jazz




"Virtuosos of soul-jazz visit DGBG"

March 25, 2012
By Jeff Miers

Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar on Allen Street — commonly referred to as DBGB by the jam-band, DJ music and jazz fans and musicians who loyally gather there — has slowly evolved from a dark corner bar into an inviting music club and restaurant over the past few years.

Part of this growth has involved the addition of happy hour shows Fridays and Saturdays, where casual, seated pub-style dining is offered as bands perform warm-up sets for the later evening’s attractions.

The happy hour performers can vary, from the Grateful Dead-based songfests of Workingman’s Dead, to the serious sets of jazz from renowned drummer Carmen Intorre and friends.

On Friday, soul-jazz was the order of the early evening, as Rochesterbased trio Paradigm Shift offered up twin sets of supple, groove-centered instrumental music. The vibe was mellow, but inspired — Paradigm Shift is composed of killer players with strong resumes, men who know how to grab a crowd’s attention with subtlety.

Led by guitarist Melvin Henderson, Paradigm Shift also includes cofounder and organist Gerry Youngman and the band’s youngest member, drummer Sean Jefferson, who has been on board for five years. All three are virtuosos, men well-schooled in the hybrid of jazz, soul, R&B, gospel and funk that is souljazz. More significant than their individual prowess as players is the manner in which the Paradigm Shift musicians interact — yes, there were solos aplenty on Friday, but all bowed before the supremacy of the groove.

This, of course, is wholly in keeping with the soul-jazz tradition. The music is, more often than not, based on the organ-playing—a soul-jazz organist such as Youngman is responsible for handling bass player duties with his left hand while affording funky harmonic accompaniment with his right. Youngman proved himself more than familiar with the stylistic breakthroughs of soul-jazz forebears Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff, players who forged the blueprint for the form, along with the Cannonball Adderly Quartet, Jimmy McGriff, Grant Green and others, during the ’60s.

All of the aforementioned bands and artists centered their music on the groove, which was not always rooted to the triplet-swing feel of Be Bop. Jefferson is clearly a drummer with serious jazz chops, but Friday, he also knew when a funky R&B groove was the appropriate coal to shovel into the engine room’s fire.

Mel Henderson sat atop all of this, providing sultry accompaniment, playing chordal melodies during the heads of each tune and then blending blues and jazz in his attention-grabbing solos. Clearly a musician who has studied jazz giants like Wes Montgomery and George Benson, Henderson tore it up during a souljazz take on Miles Davis’ timeless post-Bop masterpiece “So What.” His solo moved gracefully between Montgomery-like double-octaves and melodic, Bop-based lines.

A later take on Benson’s mid-70s hit “Breezin’ ” offered another highlight, and all three musicians soloed eloquently.

The intimate, inviting atmosphere at Duke’s was deepened by the funky sophistication of Henderson and Paradigm Shift. The whole night felt like a cool and cozy hang with friends, with a smoking soul-jazz trio providing the personalized soundtrack.


Concert Review

Paradigm Shift

Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar Friday - Buffalo News

"Street Expressionism"

The cover design to Paradigm Shift's second CD is a bit odd, as it gives top billing to guests Wycliffe Gordon and Marcus Printup (who previously appeared on the trio's Shifting Times), along with multi-reed player Gray Mayfield. But no matter the order of names, this excellent band (with guitarist Melvin Henderson, organist Gerry Youngman, and drummer Jared Schonig) plays a good mix of jazz-funk and soul-jazz. The punchy opener, "Street Expressionism," contrasts Mayfield's hip flute with Gordon's raucous trombone and Printup's sassy trumpet. Mayfield's hip tenor sax is showcased in the streetwise blues "Fallin' Through the Crack," as Schonig follows Youngman's first solo with a strong piano solo (via overdub). Henderson's boisterous "Candi" features Gordon's sassy trombone and Mayfield's robust tenor. Youngman's warm ballad "In My Life" (not to be confused with the Beatles tune) swings gently and will prompt a bit of foot-tapping. He also penned the light, funky "One Last Time." One nice surprise is a side-splitting arrangement of the oldie "Lulu's Back in Town," featuring Gordon, Mayfield (on alto sax), and Printup, who also add a happy vocal chorus. Mayfield stays on alto for the soulful arrangement of Percy Mayfield's "Give Me a Break." The subdued setting of "Small Day Tomorrow" adds vocalist Annie Sellick in a sensuous performance. Recommended. -

"Shifting Times"

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 this 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 uptempo “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 this 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.

- John Kelman
- All About

"Shifting Times"

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 names – Henderson 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.

- Jason Crane
- All About


Shifting Times, NHR 2004
Street Expressionism, NHR 2007



Soul jazz trio, PARADIGM SHIFT captures the fire of classic organ-guitar pairings like Dr. Lonnie Smith and George Benson while also propelling their spirit into the present with a decidedly modern sound. If organ-driven jazz saw its heyday in the late '60s, nobody bothered to tell PARADIGM SHIFT bandleader/guitarist MELVIN HENDERSON or co-founder/organist GERRY YOUNGMAN. Both men cut their teeth on landmark records during that era but have also since then served as sidemen for some of the giants of the form, including none other than Dr. Lonnie Smith and Jack McDuff. Nonetheless HENDERSON and YOUNGMAN refuse to succumb to preservationism, setting their creative sights squarely forward rather than back. And now, with a new generation's perspective courtesy of forward-thinking drummer/composer SEAN JEFFERSON, the band is poised to launch soul jazz into its bright, funky future while tearing up stages across the globe with boiling-hot grooves and a gritty attack that pleasantly recaptures the music's rightful street-level ambience.

Band Members