Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Larry Young - 1966 - Of Love And Peace

Larry Young 
Of Love And Peace

01. Pavanne (14:13)
02. Of Love And Peace (6:34)
03. Seven Steps To Heaven (10:19)
04. Falaq (10:09)

Recorded July 26, 1966.

Organ - Larry Young
Drums - Wilson Moorman III, Jerry Thomas
Saxophone [Alto], Flute - James Spaulding
Saxophone [Tenor] - Herbert Morgan
Trumpet - Eddie Gale

From the year 1964 till 1975 it was hard to predict what style Larry Young would play next. During that eleven year period he played almost every conceivable style of modern jazz and fusion, as well as psychedelic and progressive rock. After starting as a bluesy hard bop organist, Larry moved on to the dry cerebral post bop of 1965's Unity, and in 1966 decided to go avant-garde with this album, Of Love and Peace.
Although this album has many of the noisy moments you would expect from a mid 60s avant jazz record, overall I found the music on here to be a bit more relaxed and controlled than a lot of similar music from this time period. Young has a large ensemble (three horns, two drums, plus himself) assembled for this recording, but the musicians are often sensitive to each other and don't engage in competitive displays of sonic force. I especially enjoyed the two drummers (Wilson Moorman III and Jerry Thomas) who are careful to blend with each other while they create fascinating rhythmic combinations.

This album opens with Pavanne, which treads somewhat familiar ground as a Coltrane styled modal swing driven free-for-all. This is followed by Of Love and Peace, an improvisation that is abstract and somewhat quiet and relaxed compared to the opener. This tune almost sounds like a cross between 20th century concert hall music and some of Sun Ra's more unique approaches to group improvisation.

Miles' Seven Steps to Heaven opens side two and the band give it a fast chaotic and joyful reading that is somewhat reminiscent of Ornette Coleman. The album closes with Falaq, another freely improvised number that starts with a jazz pulse, but becomes more abstract as it goes. Larry turns in some trademark bizarre B3 solos on this one.

This is a great avant-garde jazz album, thoughtful and well executed, Larry and his crew avoid some of the more excessive clichés that were common in the mid 60s and create one more totally unique Larry Young album.

By 1966, Larry Young was playing music that fell between advanced hard bop/soul-jazz and the avant-garde. For this stimulating Blue Note date, the organist meets up with trumpeter Eddie Gale (who was playing with Cecil Taylor during this era), altoist/flutist James Spaulding, and three obscure but fine sidemen: tenor saxophonist Herbert Morgan and both Wilson Moorman III and Jerry Thomas on drums. Two of the selections ("Of Love and Peace" and "Falaq") are essentially free improvisations that have a momentum and purpose of their own, moving forward coherently. In addition, Young and his group perform adventurous versions of "Pavanne" and "Seven Steps to Heaven." Very stimulating and intriguing music, this was one of Larry Young's best recordings.