January 11, 2018

Larry Young - Unity (1966)

Larry Young was four years away from the Bitches Brew sessions, but in 1966 he had already built himself a road that no other Hammond players were allowed to drive on. If Into Somethin' was nearly amorphous soul jazz, then Unity is like soul jazz put through a kaleidoscope. Before there was Richard Wright on 'Interstellar Overdrive' or any other psychedelic use of organ in rock music, there was this (we're excluding Sun Ra from the conversation). A jazz organ session without the aid of a guitar is pretty similar to a piano-less trio or quartet, and this is probably what inspired and/or allowed Young's music to go from the smoother atmosphere on Into Somethin' to the more direct and hard-edged sound heard here. Youthful innovators Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw bring a top-notch performance and give what you'd expect from the rest of their catalog, but the most important sideman is Elvin Jones who has an unrestrained free-for-all on his drum set. He tears it down with Young and the duo sets off sparks like they're hitting a hard three wheel motion. Unity is rightfully heralded as a post-bop cornerstone and piques the interest of anybody who so much as glances at its brilliant mid century cover design. Take 40 minutes out of your day and listen to this, there's quite literally nothing else like it. I am also honored to announce that, for the grand price of 20 dollars, I am the recent owner of an original mono copy, so feel free to futilely beg for it.