Jump to content

Larry Young


Nate Dorward
 Share

Recommended Posts

It occurred to me that it would be worth posting a rundown of Larry Young's two remaining unreissued Blue Notes, which are only accessible in the Mosaic set. Basically, there's about 3-4 worthwhile tracks here, the rest ranges from merely OK to wretched.

*

Contrasts, recorded Sep 18 1967

Tyrone Washington, Herbert Morgan, ts

Hank White, flg

Larry Young, org

Eddie Wright, g

Eddie Gladden, d

Stacey Edwards, conga

Althea Young, vcl on "Wild Is the Wind"

Evening / Majestic Soul / Means Happiness / Major Affair / Tender Feelings / Wild Is the Wind

The liner notes (Ed Williams) are the worst kind of 1960s drivel, with Williams’ analysis of the music largely confined to identifying the zodiacal signs & elements he associates with each player (Larry is “Libra” and “Air”).

All tunes by Young unless otherwise indicated.

“Majestic Soul” (11:55). “Soul,” yes, but I’m not sure about the “majestic” part. A one-chord tune, congas & messy tambourine-shaking, “freaky” tenor sax solos (of which the best is the first one – not sure who it is, though; the second solo is pretty unconnected), collective hollers between the solos. Young’s solo comes late in the track & is pretty duff by his standards – I just find the tootling repeated notes irritatingly simplistic by his standards.

“Evening” (7:10). No guitar on this one. A handsome, rather complex Latin tune. As with all the Blue Note discs from Of Love & Peace onwards, the execution of the ensembles is kind of sloppy & Gladden & Edwards make for a very cluttered rhythmic feel. But this is an interesting track, though the horns don’t do anything terribly interesting except for the nearly-incoherent 2nd tenor solo (Washington?), a bit Sam Riversish. An understated Young solo.

“A Major Affair” (3:40). This is the best track by far (& it’s the only track from either of these two albums to get included in the Art of Larry Young compilation Blue Note once issued). It’s a duo with drummer Eddie Gladden; the chord changes are a Traneish thing with a “Giant Steps”/“Countdown” flavour. Terrific music.

“Wild Is the Wind” (4:28), the Dmitri Tiomkin standard. Althea Young, Larry’s wife, sings this one (just Larry, Althea + Gladden, in a rubato reading). Awful, though not positively unlistenable. Larry doesn’t take a solo.

“Tender Feelings” (6:48), a tune by Tyrone Washington. The full band except for the percussionist. Not a bad tune, some ambitious chord changes over a big loud groove. I like this one. A hysterical, slightly too tightly-wound tenor solo, I think (moving into guttural Pharoah Sanders/Sam Rivers territory): I assume it’s Washington. Larry’s solo seems OK to me but a bit off-the-peg, a little too stuck in the groove rather than flying free. Still, I like the vibe of this track a lot, even though it’s a little splashy.

“Means Happiness” (4:43). An African township vibe to the tune, I think. This is a free-jazz piece with added percussion, verrrrry 1960s & beatific. No flugelhorn here. It’s not bad, but nothing special. Somehow it never really feels all that transcendental or moving, it’s just a period piece.

*

Heaven on Earth, recorded Feb 9 1968

Byard Lancaster, as, fl

Herbert Morgan, ts

Larry Young, org

George Benson, g

Eddie Gladden, d

Althea Young, vcl on "My Funny Valentine"

Call Me / The Infant / The Cradle / Heaven on Earth / The Hereafter / My Funny Valentine

The (Nat Hentoff) liner notes to this one are most notable for extracts from an interview with Young talking about his enthusiasm for Elijah Muhammad.

“The Infant” (6:00). The obvious attempt at radio airplay, a by-the-numbers funk tune with a loud backbeat & George Benson guitar riff. You’d really not recognize this as Young’s work at all. That said, if this is your kind of music, it’s a perfectly respectable example of the genre. Young’s solo is depressingly like any competent soul organist’s work. In this kind of mode I find Young too reliant on tooting the same note over & over again.

“The Cradle” (5:00). A pretty bossa number for just Young & Gladden. Nothing spectacular, but it’s OK.

“The Hereafter” (8:41). An eerie minor-key waltz that’s more about mood and understatement than about solos. Some fast Benson decorations here. At 3:30 Morgan enters at last & then after his solo comes Byard Lancaster, rather feeble-sounding on flute (he doesn’t sound like he really knows how to play it). This is a decent ebb’n’flow mood-piece.

“Heaven on Earth” (6:05). Another crass backbeat-heavy tune, with a farting tenor riff to start it off & clanging drums. The bridge gives it a pop-tune vibe. George Benson sounds in his element here, at least. Again, competent work here but you’d never guess it was Larry Young playing the banally strutting solo.

A pop tune: “Call Me” (7:26), by Tony Hatch. A sugary bossa, but given a rather good songful treatment. This track is actually performed with a lot more gutsiness than the backbeat-oriented fare on the album. If you like Young’s handling of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” you’d like this one (actually, it might be a tad better).

“My Funny Valentine” (4:38), Rodgers-Hart of course. The mandatory feature for Althea Young, & it’s worse than “Wild Is the Wind”. Quite horrid. No Young solo, just a Benson solo.

*

My thoughts on the above: the main problem isn't the pop leanings but just that for all the messy percussion & billowing organ chords the word for the feeling is "stiff", esp. Young's solos.

The only other obscure Young album that people often ask about which I've heard is the belatedly issued session with Booker Ervin for Prestige. I no longer have it. Basically, it's a completists-only release: it's OK, but Young & Ervin never get on the same wavelength & the drummer's not much use.

I would be very interested to hear about other Young releases I've not heard, esp:

1) the album with John McLaughlin, Love, Devotion & Surrender (I heard this at a radio station, I remember it as OK though not great).

2) the other 1970s stuff, which is I gather mostly awful

3) the final album with Joe Chambers, which sounds very promising. It was made under Chambers' name I gather.

Edited by Nate Dorward
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nate, thank you. I saw the CD version of the Larry Young Mosaic in a used store the other day and was thinking of asking for opinions here so your analysis is very timely and much appreciated. The price was around $140 which I know is cheap by eBay standards but still seems kind of pricey if all the best material is available elsewhere. Anyone else have any thoughts on whether this set is worth acquiring?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone else have any thoughts on whether this set is worth acquiring?

I guess it's easy to say if one already has the set, but I think the best albums from the Mosaic have already come out as individual discs. Still, if you like those that have come out individually, you'll probably want the others. I guess I'd just say to not expect as much from the remaining sessions, and you'll likely be less let down if you end up purchasing the whole sha-bang. (It's great to have the booklet and box anyhow.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I rather like "Contrasts" -- quite a bit actually. It may be a bit rough around the edges -- but seriously, I'll take it over a lot of other organ dates that are much less exciting, but better rehearsed. And, hey, it's got Tyrone Washington AND Herbert Morgan -- two of my favorite "obscure" tenor players from the late 60's -- so it scores pretty high in my book for that reason alone. (I'd probably give it a solid "B" if I was handing out letter-grades.)

"Heaven on Earth" is probably my least favorite of Larry's last four BN dates, but like "Contrasts", it also has Herbert Morgan, who didn't record much. (So, there's maybe some value in the date from that perspective.) Maybe I shouldn't say "least favorite", but rather "least exciting" -- in terms of innovative playing, all around. (I'd probably give it a letter-grade of "C" - or maybe a "C+".)

Whether the whole set is worth $140 or not is a personal decision, but that's a hell of a lot less than the upwards-of-$200-or-$250 I've seen it go for in recent years.

Edited by Rooster_Ties
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd say avoid the box, frankly: I got it at a time when all of Young's albums were out of print, but now that they're available what's the point? (Or have any of them slipped out of print again? If so, a crime.) With the box you don't get the original cover art, most of the really good sessions get split over 2 CDs (indeed, Unity gets split over two boxes!), & the two hard-to-get sessions aren't really much good. Get someone to burn them to CDR for you (if you like, send me a backchannel note & I'll do it myself). The only essential track between the two albums is "A Major Affair", with "Evening", "Call Me", "The Hereafter" & "Tender Feelings" being worthwhile & the rest skippable.

Yes, Homer nods....

Edited by Nate Dorward
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, Larry Young was such a genius... and his music is so phenomenal, ALL of his Blue Note records are worthy of intensive study. Some are "better" than others, really depending on your tastes. I like the earlier stuff more myself, but it's hard to be critical of where he was going at any point in his career.

No offense Nate, but when you start throwing around terms like crass and horrid to describe tunes like "Heaven and Earth," "My Funny Valentine (on which Young's comping is quite a lesson, sure the vocals aren't much)" "Majestic Soul" ect... I have a hard time taking your evaluations seriously.

Calling much of the later Young Blue Notes throwaways or worthless is a real miscalculation imho.

Edited by Soul Stream
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest akanalog

i would like to add that "lawrence of newark" is a pretty good album. is this early 70's or late 60's? just because this shows 70's larry young could be aight. even later lifetime like "ego" shows this though it is not a larry young album. but "lawrence of newark", in my opinion, is worth a purchase for sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, Larry Young was such a genius...  and his music is so phenomenal, ALL of his Blue Note records are worthy of intensive study.  Some are "better" than others, really depending on your tastes.  I like the earlier stuff more myself, but it's hard to be critical of where he was going at any point in his career.

No offense Nate, but when you start throwing around terms like crass and horrid to describe tunes like "Heaven and Earth," "My Funny Valentine (on which Young's comping is quite a lesson, sure the vocals aren't much)" "Majestic Soul" ect...  I have a hard time taking your evaluations seriously.

Calling much of the later Young Blue Notes throwaways or worthless is a real miscalculation imho.

Yep!

I'm sure Mr. Dorward forgot to add, "Your mileage may vary." Unless he considers his opinion fact.

I love Mosaics and would take the set over individual CD's any day. Well, maybe not for $500. :D I have the Mosaic LP set and do not miss the cover art of the CD's. :rolleyes::rolleyes: .LMAO.

I do not consider CD's to have cover art. You will enjoy the large session photos in the Mosaic booklet much more, I think. $140 is a steal...

Whatever you do, enjoy Larry Young.

YMMV

Edited by wolff
Link to comment
Share on other sites

would be very interested to hear about other Young releases I've not heard, esp:

1) the album with John McLaughlin, Love, Devotion & Surrender (I heard this at a radio station, I remember it as OK though not great).

I have this albums for years. It's with Santana and John McLaughlin. I was amazed when I recently realized that the "great" Larry Young plays there. He is negligible on that one, you don't have to be Larry Young to do what he did on that record. As for the album; it's a bit boring, mostly modal exploration of Coltrane's and Sanders' tunes. The originals are much better. McLaughlin plays very good IMHO but in this case it's to much of a good thing. His interplay with Santana might be interesting for some guitar aficionados though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Count me in as a huge Larry Young fan. In fact, he is without doubt my favorite organist. IMO everything by him is worth having if for no other reason his recording career was relatively short and there is not a whole bunch of Larry Young out there - especially as a leader. I agree that the two Blue Notes Nate mentioned are probably not as strong as Unity and the stuff with Grant Green, but they are by no means throways. I also consider his pre-Blue Note recordings to be essential to appreciate how his playing developed.

And something I found very interesting if not essential is the jam session he did with Jimi Hendrix.

I still have not heard much of the Lifetime recordings - what little I heard was a bit too overpowering for me and seemed to lack much subtlety, but I do intend to check these recordings closer at some point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like CONTRASTS just fine. A bit loose, but more "together" than OF LOVE AND PEACE, at least to my ears. I like some tunes off of HEAVEN & EARTH better than others, but afaic, “The Cradle” is the most sublime of Young's ongoing series of organ/drums duets. Bottom line for me- if you just want the "highlight" of Young's BN career, you can skip these, but otherwie, there's enough meat there to justify getting them all in some form or fashion (which doesn't mean paying exhorbitant prices for the Mosaic).

The two Arista albums, otoh, are emminently ignorable. And ignoble. The music goes beyond being "dumbed down" into being outright dumb. Unequivically. No redeeming qualities whatsoever, not even in production values. Some pitiful shit.

The Muse side w/Chambers, otoh, is a delight. Be forwarned, however, hat Chambers plays piano on all but two cuts. So if you're expecting an album of blistering organ/drums duets, don't. But otherwise, grab this puppy and enjoy. Da' Bastids usually have "new reissue" copies (of what origin, I haven't a clue) of this on vinyl.

Not yet mentioned is LOVE CRY WANT. Incredible music, but defintiely not for the faint of heart. You've been warned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest akanalog

speaking of mclaughlin-i guess everyone has heard the "devotion" album with mclaughlin, larry young and the band of gypsies rhythm section (i think) of billy cox and buddy miles.

pretty good-a little too rock-ish sometimes but it gets spacy too. i guess i am not the biggest buddy miles fan but back in the day other respected musicians seem to have liked his style (hendrix, miles)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just listened to both CONTRASTS and HEAVEN ON EARTH just now...

(And note: I don't ever listen to either of vocal tracks (with Larry's wife), so I don't even include them in my assessment of the albums.)

Some observations on CONTRASTS

A bit under rehearsed, perhaps, but them's the breaks sometimes. Bothers me not one bit!! This is some DAMN exciting music. ( :excited: )

I'd forgotten there was a guitar-player on this date (it's Eddie Wright), and he adds some great texture to what is a fairly free group ("free"-leaning at times, anyway). Provides some nice grounding to the "free"-ish tunes he's on - as if to remind us of the context of where this music comes from.

Eddie Gladden is on board too (drums). I know some people here (Chuck? - if I remember right, perhaps others), find fault with Gladden -- but I'm definitely NOT in that camp. To my ears, Gladden often sounds like a cross between Jack DeJohnette circa 1969, with a good dash of Rashid Ali circa 1967. (And for the record, I'm NOT saying that Gladden has all the talent of DeJohnette or Rashid -- just that he definitely gets in the same ballpark, and has some of the same energy/vibe.) Or another way of saying it --- there's plenty of drummers that were more rock-solid than Gladden, but less creative -- and I'll take "creative (and still relatively solid)" over just "rock solid" any day. I wish there were more drummers like Gladden in the late 60's, really.

Tyrone, and Herbert Morgan -- what can I say?? For me, they improve almost any date they're on. Both these guys knew what they were doing, bumping up to chaos, but not succumbing to it entirely. And those sometimes (so-called) "nearly-incoherent" solos of theirs -- are music to my ears (and I say that as someone who ISN'T enamored with every bit of "free" music I've ever heard). The jazz world is a lesser place for both of these guys' obscurity and relatively lack of recorded material.

Hank White (flugelhorn) works here for me too. Not enough organ dates with interesting ("free"-leaning) brass-players on them, so this is valuable in that regard too. White might not be the star sideman on the date, but he doesn't detract one bit either.

Overall, it'd be a crime if this one didn't get the Conn treatment someday.

I'm officially upgrading my assessment of this album to a solid "B+". :tup:tup

Some observations on HEAVEN ON EARTH:

An uneven date, by any measure, but with its moments here and there. About half the date is MUCH less interesting to me than practically every other Larry Young BN leader date --- probably because of the more mainstream approach of some of the tunes. Don't know if this is entirely because of George Benson, but I suspect he's a big part of why. (I'm not a huge Benson fan, sorry.) But more importantly, overall, the group doesn't quite gel like you might want them to.

One or two tracks are pretty solid and mostly worthy (the duo track is great!! :tup ), but the rest don't quite measure up to the high bar Larry set for himself (as evidenced by the rest of his leader dates for BN). Overall, probably a letter-grade of "C+". (A couple of the tracks are definitely worth a "B", but as many or more are probably closer to "C-" tracks.) Overall, it just doesn't 'click' much for me.

==========

Overall, I'd probably rate Larry's BN leader dates like this...

1964 - INTO SOMETHIN' A

1965 - UNITY A+

1966 - OF LOVE AND PEACE A-

1967 - CONTRASTS B+

1968 - HEAVEN ON EARTH C+

1969 - MOTHER SHIP A :tup:tup

Edited by Rooster_Ties
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm surprised at the response to "Heaven and Earth." It's always been my favorite later Young Blue Note. I Think the sound this band creates is tight but joyously loose at the same time. I love it. Hearkens a bit to some of the stuff Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery were doing without losing any of the Young sensibilities.

Like George Benson said, Larry Young could play both ways...his way and the more traditional way. On H&E he does a superb job of melding these two styles in a performance style that's not really captured on other albums.

Edited by Soul Stream
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the further thoughts on the disc. Hm, I'm not so keen on Of Love & Peace either, though it's certainly an interesting album..... I think my comment wouild be that Contrasts is actually fairly close in sound to Of Love & Peace even though it's not quite so out-there or consistent. If you like one of them, though, you'll probably like the other.

But don't buy one of those ridiculously overpriced Mosaic boxes on Ebay!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The two Arista albums, otoh, are emminently ignorable. And ignoble. The music goes beyond being "dumbed down" into being outright dumb. Unequivically. No redeeming qualities whatsoever, not even in production values. Some pitiful shit.

That's accurate. I bought them both with excited anticipation to hear more Larry Young. When I played them I kept hoping there would be at least be one listenable track, but... :blink::wacko::mellow::tdown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...