Shift is a welcome return to the emotive stylings of Logan Richardson, the Paris-based, Kansas City-born saxophonist and composer who garnered respect as a fluent voice with his 2007 debut Cerebral Flow (Fresh Sound) and projects with peers like pianist Gerald Clayton in NEXT Collective. With this debut on Blue Note the blending of culturally rich environments feed creative music realized by Richardson's dream band of jazz luminaries: guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Jason Moran and a superb rhythm unit of bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Nasheet Waits.
Since departing from the urban R&B group Undacova in the late '90s, Calvin Richardson has recorded infrequently. While his 1999 debut nu-soul set, Country Boy, was a knockout, it was critically underappreciated. He followed this in 2003 with another fine album, 2:35 P.M., and When Love Comes in 2008. That said, his 2009 offering, Facts of Life: The Soul of Bobby Womack, a full-length tribute to one of his primary influences, is a wildly ambitious but logical step. The dangers in doing a tribute to a legendary artist, especially Womack, one of soul music’s most storied and colorful legends as both a singer and songwriter, is a daunting task. But Richardson’s and Womack’s voices are very similar, though the latter’s is not as rough as the former’s and has more gospel in it, which works very well in adding to most of these songs.