Larry Young, Organ Transformer

Here I am, fartin’ around the used rekkid bins in Missoula — musta been ’75 or so — to be specific, the one outlet that regularly had a first-class jazz selection (Albert Ayler was somebody I discovered there, also Sarah Vaughan). Anyway, I glommed onto this album by Larry Young, Heaven on Earth (Blue Note, 1968), for whatever reason:

Larry Young

(okay okay I was on my own and lonely and thought the giant goddess would at least be fun to look at while the album played — I didn’t know squat about jazz organists)

But sha-ZAM! This Larry Young guy was slithering all over my head and heart from the first cut onward — he was sonically and rhythmically cut loose. He could go on and on and keep you mesmerized. And, turns out, this is only a so-so album by him.

“Larry Young had that something  He had that thing that Jimi Hendrix had.  He had a certain futuristic freedom of mind and spirit … Larry had that open mind; he had that. That’s what I hear. I hear this freedom and this fire in addition to the fact that he grooved really hard.” — John Medeski in the liner notes to Larry Young in Paris

So my treat to start this weekend is the newly discovered 1969 recordings Young made in Paris. Here’s the scoop.

Young made an ideal introduction to organ jazz for a rock punk like me. His poised ramblin’, obviously freewheelin’ style set me up to not be snotty about the dance-beat organ outfits that he succeeded. A blessing. And he remains a wonder who died tragically early. Lemmee tell ya, Unity is an album you must have if you consider yourself a jazz fan. One of those not-an-idle-second sessions.

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