Wednesday, March 21, 2018

First Cosins Jazz Ensemble - 1977 - For The Cos Of Jazz

First Cosins Jazz Ensemble 
For The Cos Of Jazz

01. Please The Pleaser 5:00
02. Psalm 2:25
03. Gently But Nasty 3:44
04. Flat Meat 4:23
05. Beans And Sauce 3:28
06. A Plush Moment 4:09
07. Funky Johnson 2:55
08. Banana Peel 3:43
09. I Don't Know 3:18
10. Fit-It To The Rhythm 3:20

Keyboard - Stu Gardner
Saxophone – Rudy Johnson
Bass – David Shields
Drums – James Gadson, Nate Neblett
Guitar – Wah Wah Watson, Ray Parker
Keyboards – Larry Farrow,
Percussion – Allen Estes
Saxophone, Flute – Doug Richardson
Trombone – Dick “Slide” Hyde
Trumpet – Bobby Finley, Gary Grant

As the name of the group and album might hint, Bill Cosby was a major figure in putting this together — which makes sense, as he was pretty involved in the music world in the ’60s and ’70s in addition to his acting and stand-up comedy career. Indeed, Cosby is listed as a musical consultant and co-arranger on the record.

Musically, For the Cos of Jazz is pretty typical of the jazz/funk that was popular in the mid-to-late ’70s. It brings to mind one of my favorite bands from the period, the Crusaders. The arrangements and performances are tight, and range from smooth, lite-funk like “Please the Pleaser” and “Beans and Sauce” to more cookin’ and slappin’ numbers like “Psalm” and “Flat Meat.”

Wah Wah Watson - 1976 - Elementary

Wah Wah Watson 

01. Goo Goo Wah Wah 5:36
02. Love My Blues Away 5:30
03. Cry Baby 4:02
04. My Love For You Comes And Goes 4:37
05. Together (Whatever) 4:53
06. Sunset Boulevard 4:09
07. Love Ain't Somethin' (That You Get For Free) 4:19
08. I'll Get By Without You 6:01
09. Bubbles 3:18
10. Good Friends 6:12

Bass – Louis Johnson
Clavinet [Hohner D6] – John Barnes
Drums – Ollie Brown
Guitar – Ray Parker, Jr.
Piano – Clarence McDonald, Joe Sample
Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes], Synthesizer [Arp 2600] – Sonny Burke
Synthesizer [Maestro Universal Synthesizer System], Talkbox [Voice Bag], Electronics [Echoplex, Maestro Sample And Hold Unit], Effects [Boomerang Wah Wah], Guitar, Vocals – Wah Wah Watson

Melvin "Wah Wah Watson" Ragin may be one of the most talented musicians you have never heard of. As a session musician for the famed Motown Records - he had the honor of serving as a member of the Motown studio band throughout the 1970s. Wah-Wah played guitar in numerous recording sessions for a venerable who's who of artistic leaders including, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Bobbi Humphrey and more. A Detroit native, Wah Wah Watson earned his nickname from his dominating control and precision on the Wah Wah pedal. His talents made him a highly sought after commodity throughout the funk and soul heyday of the seventies. In 1976 Wah Wah decided to take a crack at a solo career, and turned his attention toward the release of his first ever studio album, "Elementary". Enlisting the help of his friends, who just so happen to be equally great and notable studio musicians, Wah Wah crafted a timeless collection of jazzy-funk grooves that was eventually found a home on Columbia Records. Unfortunately, Wah Wah's solo's career was cut short as the album received critical acclaim but was a disappointing commercial failure. Columbia did not repress "Elementary" and it remained out of print for decades.

Whenever I listen to music, one thing I always do is look at which musicians play on an album. One man whose played on more sessions than the average musician has had gigs, is the one and only Wah Wah Watson, virtuoso guitarist and a man who weaves that unmistakable wah wah guitar sound. If I was to try to list the albums Wah Wah has played on, then I’d still be writing his list of credits later this week. These include The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Rose Royce, The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton and Rose Royce. As I say, these are just a snapshot of artists Wah Wah’s accompanied. He’s been the go-to-guy for jazz, soul and funk artists since 1970. However, there’s much more to Wah Wah Watson than just a session guitarist. He was a member of Motown’s famous studio band The Funk Brothers, worked with every major Motown producer and is a songwriter and producer. While I’m reeling of remarkable facts about the master of the wah-wah pedal, I’ll give you one more fact about Wah Wah Watson. In 1976, Wah Wah Watson released his only solo album Elementary, which will be released by BBR Records on 30th July 2012. For anyone wondering about the title Elementary, just check out the album cover to Elementary. There’s Wah Wah complete with Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat and puffing furiously at a pipe. No you’ll realize, to misquote Sherlock Holmes it’s Elementary my dear Wah Wah Watson. One thing you’re probably wondering though, why was Elementary Wah Wah Watson’s only album? That’s what I’ll tell you now.

How Wah Wah went from session musician came after he worked on Herbie Hancock’s 1975 album Man-Child. Wah Wah played on Herbie Hancock’s 1975 album Man-Child, forging a musical partnership that would see Herbie play on Herbie’s 1979 album Feets Don’t Fail Me Now and his two 1980 albums Mr Hands and Monster. Once the Man-Child was recorded, Bruce Lundvall president of CBS heard Herbie Hancock’s band live, with Wah Wah Watson weaving his wah-wah guitar and was astounded, totally blown away. There was Wah Wah with a bank of pedals, speakers and tubes surrounding him, all of which brought about this unique and unmistakable sound. Bruce realized hehad to sign Wah Wah Watson. After all, the guy was an innovator, totally way ahead of the musical curve. Soon, Wah Wah Watson was signed to CBS, with work ready to start on his debut album. For a musician like Wah Wah Watson, an experienced songwriter, musician and producer, this would be Elementary.

For his debut album Wah Wah Watson wrote three tracks, using his real name Melvin Ragin. The other seven tracks he wrote with various songwriting partners. This included writing two tracks Love My Blues Away and Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free) with Ray Parker Jr, who’d play guitar on the album. Dave Gruisin cowrote I’ll Get By Without You with Wah Wah. Herbie Hancock would cowrite Bubbles with Wah Wah. These tracks, plus five other tracks would be recorded with some of Wah Wah’s heavyweight musician friends joining him.

To produce what would become Elementary Wah Wah drafted in David Rubinson and Friends Inc. Recording sessions took place at several studios, in Los Angeles, including Village Recorders and Quad Tech. Wally Heider Recording studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco were used, as were Funky Features in San Francisco. In these studios, the all-star band would record. Herbie Hancock would join Wah Wah for the record sessions, while Ray Parker Jr played guitar, Joe Sample played piano and Sonnie Burke keyboards. The brass section included tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and soprano saxophonist, while a rhythm section of drummer Ollie Brown and bassist Louis Johnson provided the album’s heartbeat. Wah Wah played guitar, while demonstrating his innovative side playing synths, Echoplex and a multitude of innovative instruments. Soon, the ten tracks that became Elementary were recorded. All that was left was for the Elementary to be released later in 1976.

On the release of Elementary in September 1976, the album sold poorly and failed to trouble the US charts. The same month Goo Goo Wah Wah was released as a single in the US, and again, failed to chart. A month later, in October 1976 Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free) was released as a single in the UK. Again, it failed to chart. Maybe the problem was that Wah Wah Watson’s debut album Elementary was far too ahead of its time, and record buyers would need to grow into his innovative, imaginative sound. Was that the case. That’s what I’ll decide, once I’ve told you about the music on Wah Wah Watson’s debut album Elementary.

Goo Goo Wah Wah opens Elementary, with Wah Wah’s unmistakable guitar drenched in echo, dancing its way across the arrangement, with the rhythm section, hissing hi-hats and keyboards for company. The sound is big, bold and dramatic with Wah Wah using the Voice Bag to good effect. His crack team of musicians combine with Wah-Wah as he innovates, not just with guitar, but with his effects. He fuses jazz, funk and even elements of rock, for six minutes, slowly and dramatically trailing the words “boogie, boogie, boogie using his Voice Bag.” In doing so, he innovates in such a way, that’s totally unique and absolutely compelling.

Love My Blues Away has a much straight forward sound, with bursts of subtle horns, accompanying the rhythm section as Wah Wah delivers a tender vocal. The tempo is slow, the band playing in such a way that matches the drama and hurt in the lyrics. They don’t overpower the tenderness of the vocal, with backing vocalists subtly accompanying Wah Wah. Later, after just two minutes, a blazing, emotive horn solo is unleashed by Ernie Watts, which is key to the song’s success. Lush strings are added, while the rhythm section grow the arrangement, which unfolds in waves. Similarly, Wah Wah’s vocal grows in power and pain, resulting in the best track on the album.

Cry Baby sees the rhythm section take charge of the track, before Wah Wah, accompanied by a jaunty piano delivers the vocal through the Voice Bag. This is effective, with the broody, dramatic rhythm section, keyboards and guitar enveloping his vocal. Although Sonny Burke’s piano playing plays an important part, it’s the rhythm section and of course the unmistakable sound of one and only Wah Wah Watson weaving his magic through the track that’s at the heart of the track’s inventive, innovative sound. 

From the inventive, innovative sound of Cry Baby, My Love Comes and Goes sees the introduction of the legendary backing vocalists The Walters Family. Their cooing, tender vocals are accompanied by keyboards, growling horns and lush strings while the rhythm section provide the track’s beautiful heartbeat. Wah Wah’s heartfelt vocal demonstrates just how good a vocal he is. He’s foregone the trickery of the previous track, his guitar playing more straight ahead. This results in a heart achingly beautiful track, that you’ll never, ever tire of. That I can promise you.

The unique sound of Wah Wah’s guitar opens the blistering Together (Whatever). It’s complete with gospel-tinged vocals from The Walters Family. With Wah Wah and his band creating a backdrop where funk and jazz combine, this is an intriguing combination. Punchy backing vocals accompany Wah Wah’s guitar which helps drive the track along, as The Walters Family add glorious testifying vocals. Again, Sonny Burke’s keyboards are at the heart of everything that’s good. He helps drive the track along, playing his part, before a sizzling, blazing horn adds the icing on this irresistible musical cake.

Elementary is a bit like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates,  “you never know what you’ll get next.” Unlike Forest’s box of chocolates, there’s no chocolates that remain uneaten in Wah Wah’s box of delights. When Sunset Boulevard opens, you wonder where Wah Wah wah-wah guitar is heading. Then his backing band provide a jaunty backdrop with the piano, rhythm section and horns combining. Meanwhile The Walter Family add some tight harmonies, their vocal exploding dramatically. Lush strings are added, while Wah Wah’s vocal is accompanied by an arrangement that sometimes, heads in the direction of jazz. Swathes of strings and backing vocalists add to the track’s drama and beauty. By the end of the track, you’re left with a feeling of contentment, at the track’s uplifting, feel-good sound.

It’s just drums and hissing hi-hats that open Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free), before Wah Wah weaves his wah guitar. Then his vocal enters, full of hurt and sadness, while The Walters Family add soaring, dramatic backing vocals. As the vocal drops out, the rhythm section, keyboards and Wah Wah’s guitar take charge. Meanwhile, strings cascade adding to the emotion and hurt in Wah Wah’s vocal. However, when Wah Wah and The Walters Family combine, this is a perfect combination. So good are the backing vocals, this seems to lift the band, as they lift their game even higher. The result is one of the most soulful, emotive and dramatic offerings from Wah Wah Watson on Elementary.

I’ll Get By Without You is a slow track, one that usually, the arranger would have a sound that’s sad, filled with emotion and heartache. Maybe this would be strings, even a haunting saxophone solo or piano. They wouldn’t usually add a wah-wah guitar. This is what happens here, but at the start, it’s played with subtlety, while Wah Wah’s vocal is filled with heartache and hurt. A piano, subtle rhythm section and strings combine with The Walters Family heartfelt vocals. Later, Wah Wah’s guitar grows in power, but neither overpowering, nor sounding out of place. Instead,  it plays its part this in what is a soulful song about love gone wrong, but with a twist.

Bubbles is an apt description for the track, with its slow, floaty sound, where Wah Wah’s guitar resonates, disappearing wistfully into the ether. He’s accompanied by the rhythm section, who play slowly, while Herbie Hancock adds electric piano. The arrangement meanders along, with Wah Wah’s wah-wah guitar augmented by a dreamy sounding guitar that provides a contrast. Keyboards, percussion and Herbie on piano provide the track’s laid-back jazzy sound that you lose yourself into. Its sound beckons, drawing you in. You don’t hesitate, you succumb, losing yourself for just over three mellow minutes.

Closing Elementary is Good Friends which has a quite different sound from the previous track. The album was released in 1976, at the height of disco’s popularity, so Wah Wah decides to close Elementary with a disco track. You’re swept along atop a combination of beautiful vocals from The Walters Family, Wah Wah’s guitar and a rhythm section, complete with buzzing bass. Lush strings and Wah Wah’s heartfelt vocal and woodwind all enter, adding to the slick, polished disco-esque sound. The vocals, strings and rhythms are perfect for this dance-floor track, which floats elegantly and beautifully along, bringing Elementary to a surprising, but very satisfying end.

Having wondered whether Wah Wah Watson’s debut and only solo album Elementary was was far too ahead of its time, I think that was definitely the case. Listening to Elementary, what I found was an innovative, imaginative album, where Wah Wah Watson fusea funk, soul, jazz, disco and even a touch of rock. Wah Wah moves seamlessly and comfortably between musical genres. One minute he’s at home funking it up on Goo Goo Wah Wah, before heading down a very different road on the ballad Love My Blues Away. From there, Cry Baby sees Wah Wah the innovator, unleashing his box of tricks, wah-wahing his way through the track using his Voice Bag. My Love Comes and Goes sees Wah Wah Watson balladeer enter, and this isn’t the last time. Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free) and I’ll Get By Without You see the reappearance of Wah Wah Watson balladeer. Then on Together (Whatever), Wah Wah up the ante, accompanied by gospel-tinged vocals from The Walters Family. Bubbles sees Wah Wah enter a mellow mood, with Herbie Hancock playing electric piano. Nothing however, prepares you for the sublime Good Friends, a disco floater that closes Elementary. You’re swept along by lush strings, The Walters Family’s beautiful vocals and of course a crack rhythm section. However, it’s ironic that it’s Good Friends a disco track that closes Elementary, because the album was released at the height of disco’s popularity. That another reason record buyers weren’t buying albums like Elementary. Basically, Elementary was released at the wrong time. Its innovative, imaginative sound was years ahead of its time and released when disco was King. Even with its nod to disco Good Friends, Elementary remains a hidden gem of an album that awaits unearthed by music lovers. Maybe if it had been released in a different time, Wah Wah Watson would’ve been a superstar. So take my advice, introduce all your Good Friends to Wah Wah Watson, a multifaceted singer, songwriter, musician and producer one his only album 

Reggie Lucas - 1975 - Survival Themes

Reggie Lucas
Survival Themes

01. Slewfoot
02. Tender Years
03. The Barefoot Song
04. Survival Themes
a. Season Of The Monsoon
b. Faces Of Fortune
c. Tabarca
d. Electric Reflection

Recorded July 29, 1975

Bass – Anthony Jackson, Michael Henderson
Congas, Percussion – James Mtume
Drums – Howard King
Electric Piano, Clavinet, Synthesizer – Hubert Eaves
Guitar – Reggie Lucas
Tenor Saxophone – John Stubblefield
Trombone – Clifford Adams
Trumpet – Joe Gardnen

Up until now, Reggie Lucas has been best known for: 1) his creative, funky rhythm guitar work (and occasional soloing) in Miles Davis' 1972-75 ensemble, and 2) his production work and songwriting for the likes of Madonna, Mtume, Stephanie Millls, and Phyllis Hyman (often paired with fellow Miles alum James Mtume). 1975's all-instrumental SURVIVAL THEMES finds Reggie seemingly on the move from the former to the latter, with one foot planted in both areas. The extended title track offers a suite of four Lucas/Mtume guitar/percussion duets. The approach has similarities to Miles' challenging AGHARTA/PANGAEA albums. The first three duets are semi-ambient explorations of melodic themes (ala some of the quieter passages on the before-mentioned Miles albums) sounds as if Lucas overdubbed a second guitar much of the time. The final "theme" offers a Hendrix-like sonic explosion (at first sounding a bit like Jimi's `Voodoo Chile', then quickly building to a Pete Cosey-like fury) over Mtume's electric percussion washes. This storm is far from quiet.
In contrast, the first three tracks offer a relatively conventional brand of funk-jazz that seems to find a mid-point between Miles' radical mid-70s period and the more radio-friendly music of the likes of Norman Connors...perhaps not as visionary as Herbie Hancock but with more bite than the crossover efforts by the likes of Donald Byrd and George Benson issued during this era. These tracks add drums (Howard King), bass (Michael Henderson, Anthony Jackson), keyboards (Hubert Eaves), and a horn section (on SLEW FOOT) to the core duo of Lucas and Mtume. TENDER YEARS has some mellow axe work by Reggie, while THE BAREFOOT SONG starts out quite smooth, but before you know it considerable heat is generated via extended solos from Lucas (reminds me a bit of Santana, but not a clone) and presumably Henderson (very funky and exploratory at the same time). Recommended particularly to fusion-era fans who'd like to hear Davis' 1970s musical approach backed off to varying degrees from the cutting edge...but not quite into a safety zone.
I really DO derive a lot of pleasure from this recording. This is the one and only indescribably awesome solo offering from guitar master Reggie Lucas. Recorded in July 1975 but not released until 1978 for some unknown reason, "Survival Themes" is 40 minutes of musical bliss that is half funk/jazz/rock fusion (It's not bland, it's just a fusion product of it's time and very well executed in my humble opinion) and half experimental/borderline ambient compositions veering more into the progressive rock realm (no drab noodling, just variations of several..."themes"). Percussion master, Mtume, is present on all seven pieces and injects his trademark Afrocentric vibe throughout. All seven cuts are absolutely amazing but the 9 minute plus "Electric Reflection" is so insanely intense that I couldn't even begin to simultaneously focus on anything else at all whatsoever while it is playing, for it instantaneously transfixes me and compells me to bask in all it's sonic potency throughout the entire duration. I'm sure Jimi was smiling down from the heavens when he first heard this one. I'm so grateful that I was fortunate enough to acquire a near mint copy of this extremely rare and sensational recording. I admonish you to give this album a listen if you haven't already done so. SEEK IT, FIND IT......LIVE IT!!!

Hubert Eaves - 1976 - Esoteric Funk

Hubert Eaves
Esoteric Funk

01. Call To Awareness 7:06
02. Painfull Pleasure 5:31
03. Slow Down 5:10
04. Flead Dancing 6:20
05. Song For Marlene 5:17
06. Under Standing 5:32

Recorded May 15,16 1976.

Bass – James Benjamin, John Lee (tracks: A3)
Congas, Percussion – Mtume
Drums – Howard King
Guitar – Reggie Lucas
Keyboards – Hubert Eaves
Reeds – Rene McLean
Trombone – James Stowe
Trumpet – Malachi Thompson
Vocals – Cheryl Alexander (tracks: B3)

Keyboard whiz Hubert Eaves was well known among his musical peers in the 1970s as a major sideman. His unique bank of sounds, his rhythmic left hand, and his willingness to experiment with all pop music forms made him a choice in studios with everyone from Gary Bartz to Phyllis Hyman. Few, however, were aware of this killer little slab of laidback yet totally evolved funk that he cut for the Inner City label in 1976 with members of Miles Davis' band -- Reggie Lucas and Mtume -- and other luminaries such as René McLean and Malachi Thompson. Eaves plays it all here, from ARPs to Moogs to the Rhodes to the Steinway. Over six self-composed and arranged tracks, Eaves creates a dreamscape of funky soul that had plenty of space and texture in its center while keeping a unique, airy groove over and under everything. The simmering "Call to Awareness" features a running bassline that flows instead of pops, the riff-laden "Slow Down" is a series of slow-tempo crescendos strung together in an ever-increasing dynamic platform that eventually bubbles over into a blissed-out chant. The album ends with a sweet, Roberta Flack-style vocal from Cheryl Alexander on "Under Standing" that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the set, but that's ok. The rest is rather stunning in its commitment to quality, understatement, and summery grooves.
All I can really say is that this is yet another ultra-obscure jazz-fusion gem that is simply top notch. Keyboardist, Hubert Eaves is an immense talent with a style all his own. This album also features guitar god Reggie Lucas and master Mtume on percussion. The key cuts are "Slow Down", "Song For Marlene", and the cosmic meltdown, "Call To Awareness" which has to be heard to be believed. This 1977 release is really really hard to find but well worth the search.

Various Artists - 1976 - Blue Note Live At The Roxy

Various Artists 
Blue Note Live At The Roxy 

Volume One
101. Alphonse Mouzon New York City 5:33
102. Alphonse Mouzon Just Like The Sun 4:18
103. Alphonse Mouzon Without A Reason 8:01
104. Ronnie Laws Captain Midnight 4:48
105. Ronnie Laws Night Breeze 8:18
106. Ronnie Laws Piano Interlude 1:44
107. Ronnie Laws Always There 3:30
108. Donald Byrd Places And Spaces 4:56
109. Donald Byrd (Fallin' Like) Dominoes 6:11

Volume Two
201. Carmen McRae Music 3:55
202. Carmen McRae Paint Your Pretty Picture 4:52
203. Carmen McRae Them There Eyes 1:52
204. Carmen McRae T'ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do 5:00
205. Carmen McRae You're Everything 3:03
206. Councilman Dave Cunningham Presentation Of Proclamation 4:39
207. Earl Klugh Medley: Like A Lover / A Felicidade / Manha De Carnaval / Samba De Orfeu (12:56)
208. Blue Note All-Stars Blue Note '76 12:46

Recorded: June 28, 1976 at the Roxy, Los Angeles, California by Record Plant Remote Unit
Donald Byrd recorded live in Central Park, New York, N.Y. on July 19, 1976.

Volume One:
Drums – Steve Gutierrez (tracks: 4 to 7)
Drums, Percussion – Alphonse Mouzon (tracks: 1 to 3)
Drums, Vocals – Keith Killgo (tracks: 8, 9)
Electric Bass – Charles Fillilove (tracks: 1 to 3), Donald Beck (tracks: 4 to 7)
Electric Bass, Vocals – Joe Hall (tracks: 8, 9)
Electric Guitar – Bill Rogers (tracks: 4 to 7)
Electric Guitar, Vocals – Orville Saunders (tracks: 8, 9)
Electric Piano – Bobby Lyle (tracks: 4 to 7)
Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Kevin Toney (tracks: 9)
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Ronnie Laws (tracks: 4 to 7)
Guitar – Rex Robinson (tracks: 1 to 3), Tim De Huff (tracks: 1 to 3)
Organ – Kevin Toney (tracks: 8)
Percussion – Rudy Regalado (tracks: 1 to 3)
Synthesizer, Electric Piano – Robby Robinson (tracks: 1 to 3)
Tenor Saxophone, Vocals – Stephen Johnson (2) (tracks: 8, 9)
Trumpet – Donald Byrd (tracks: 8, 9)
Vocals – Kevin Toney (tracks: 8, 9)

Volume Two
Alto Saxophone – Gary Herbig (tracks: 8)
Bass – Bernard Baron (tracks: 1 to 5), Hubert Crawford (2) (tracks: 7)
Bass [Overdub] – Ron Carter (tracks: 7)
Drums – Edward Bennett (tracks: 1 to 5), Ndugu Leon Chancler (tracks: 7)
Drums, Percussion – Gerry Brown (tracks: 8)
Electric Bass – John Lee (tracks: 8)
Electric Piano – Marshall Otwell (tracks: 1 to 5)
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Fred Jackson (tracks: 8)
Guitar – Earl Klugh (tracks: 7), Earl Klugh (tracks: 8)
Marimba – Bobby Hutcherson (tracks: 8)
Percussion – Leon Chancler (tracks: 8)
Piano – Robert Budson (tracks: 7)
Piano, Electric Piano – Gene Harris (tracks: 8)
Trombone – George Bohanon (tracks: 8)
Trumpet – Chuck Findley (tracks: 8)
Vocals – Carmen McRae (tracks: 1 to 5)

This was a live album to showcase Blue Note's more contemporary sound they were releasing around this time. The artists chosen to showcase this sound were Carmen McRae, Alphonse Mouzon, Ronnie Laws, Earl Klugh and Donald Byrd. Most of this is pretty bland renditions of what were good studio recordings; in particular Ronnie Laws embarrassingly weak version of "Always There", but the saviour of the show is Donald Byrd who does storming versions of "Places & Spaces" and "Dominoes". Also, there's a previously unheard track called "Blue Note '76" which is a total funk monster. This is performed by The Blue Note All Stars, who among others consist of Gene Harris, George Bohannon, and Bobby Hutcherson. I suupose with them three in the ingredients you're bound to end up with a pretty heavy gumbo.

Ray Gomez - 1980 - Volume

Ray Gomez

01. Make Your Move 4:28
02. U. S. A. 4:52
03. Waiting For The Big Time 5:54
04. West Side Boogie 5:41
05. Summer In The City 5:20
06. Love At First Sight 4:52
07. The World Will Keep On Turning 5:48
08. Blues For Mez 6:46

Randy Brecker: Sax
Rafael Cruz: Percussion
Diva Gray: Vocals
Lani Groves: Vocals
Jimmy Haslip: Bass
Will Lee: Bass
Ullanda McCillough: Vocals
Chris Palmaro: Keyboards, Vocals
David Sancious: Keyboards
Narada Michael Walden: Drums
George Young: Sax
Ray Gomez: Bass, Guitar, Keyboards

When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with "Albert King-like" timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray "rocks". He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, "Well, there's killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin' groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front -- that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It's still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released.

Unfortunately, due to record company politics this album never had a chance (even though it charted in cities like St. Louis when it was released and did get some radio play). If you don't know who Ray is, he is a studio guitarist and also played for the likes of Stanley Clarke (in his touring band) and Roy Buchanan (who said that Ray was the best guitarist he ever heard). Other fans were George Harrison, Jeff Beck and Billy Gibbons. This set has a couple weak tunes, but generally this is a fantastic rock guitar extravaganza! "West Side Boogie" just kills (Shawn Lane loved Ray, and did this piece on his "Powers of 10 CD), and "Blues for Mez" is a beautiful moody blues tune with some great jazz phrasing. His vocals are good, the songs are (almost all) great, and his solos are to die for. This album can be found on CD sometimes from Audiophile Imports, very worthwhile if you can find it!

Mike Greene - 1977 - Midnight Mirage

Mike Greene 
Midnight Mirage

01. Joni 5:47
02. Midnight Mirage 3:19
03. Down To The Wire 3:50
04. Jay Bluweesie 2:50
05. Perfect Smile 3:48
06. Adobe Hideaway 3:20
07. I Need A Love 4:20
08. Smile To Me 3:07
09. Circles Round The Sun 8:06

Rande Powell: Drums and Percussion
David Michael: Guitars
Mike Greene: Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophones, and Flutes
Michael Holbrook: Bass

Percussion: Farrell Morris

Mike Greene was originally a member of the Hampton Grease Band - one of the wildest fusion outfits you never heard. Formed in Atlanta, Georgia during the tumultuous late '60s, Hampton Grease Band developed a big hippie following with their crazy experimental style and playing free shows throughout the South as well as supporting bands like Fleetwood Mac, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Captain Beefheart, Grateful Dead, Procol Harum and Jimi Hendrix. The group signed with CBS, releasing their one and only album 'Music to Eat' in 1971 which sold next to zero, eventually signing to Frank Zappa's Straight Records only to break-up in 1973. Following the split, Greene put together the Mike Greene Band releasing two albums on Mercury 'Pale, Pale Moon' in 1975 and a year later 'Midnight Mirage'.
Both albums are classic examples of Southern fusion and 'Midnight Mirage' is a good as it gets. Often you'll find Mike Greene in the Jazz sections of your local shop, or described as such by some internet sellers, but this is only partially true. This is heat-fried fusion with elements of world music and pop thrown on the fire. A lot of warm vibes here and Greene is a competent vocalist somewhat in the Michael Franks / Dan Fogelberg school as well as wonderful sax player which is a featured prominently throughout the record. Surrounded with stellar musicians that weave a colourful tapestry of sound, including his old bud in Hampton Grease Band - bassist Michael Holbrook; fans of Sea Level and the Allman Brothers Band should make space for this record in their collections and from the opening cut 'Joni' you get the feeling this is going to be something special. A few of the many highlights include the title track; a rockish instrumental featuring tasty guitar work from David Michael, the funky and sweet 'Perfect Smile' and the Allman Brothers influenced 'Adobe Highway' making for a dazzling album of light and dark tones and musical riches.
Mike Greene's albums have never been on CD which may very well be politically motivated. Following 'Midnight Mirage', Greene became increasingly active in the music business, eventually becoming president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences as well as running the 'Grammy' Awards for several years. Consistently controversial for the way he operated the Grammy's, promoted his own music to major labels and allegations of sexual impropriety eventually lead to his resignation in 2002. 

This is a nice, easy to listen to album. Kinda jazzy and light. All the musicians know their craft and do a very good job playing together as a tight ensemble. I’ve played this album since I bought it in the late 70’s and it’s still a satisfying listening experience today. I don’t have a whole lot else to say about it. Give it a listen and see if you want to hear it again after you’ve played it thru once. I’d be surprised if you don’t find it a nice addition to your musical collection. Just another one more of those bands that fell in between the cracks and deserves a chance to be heard.

Mike Greene - 1976 - Pale, Pale Moon

Mike Greene 
Pale, Pale Moon

01. Hermetically Sealed 4:25
02. I Do All I Can 3:33
03. Pale, Pale Moon 4:03
04. It's Hard 4:46
05. With A Knife 2:11
06. Just Me And You 5:30
07. In The Morning 3:43
08. I Wonder Why 4:11
09. Valdez Bailey 3:38
10. Why I Must Be Lonley 4:19

Bass – Mike Holbrook
Drums – Rande Powell
Guitar – David Michael
Keyboards, Saxophone, Vocals – Mike Greene

I've played this one on and off over the last couple months and find it very pleasing listening. If you've heard Midnight Mirage then you could call this one M.M. #2 even though it was their first album. The songs on this album are extremely well done and very musical. Each musician is obviously very familiar with their instrument and they each bring quality playing individually together to form a cohesive arrangement.
As was the case so many times back in the 70's, this is just another quality band that got overlooked for some reason or another. I'd suggest that now you've got a chance to right that wrong. Take a listen to this one and Midnight Mirage and see if you can't find a tune or two that sticks with you.

Larry Young - 1976 - Spaceball

Larry Young 

01. Moonwalk (5:00)
02. Startripper (4:44)
03. Sticky Wicket (9:26)
04. Flytime (4:50)
05. Spaceball (5:07)
06. Message from Mars (7:29)
07. I'm Aware of You (5:09)

Larry Coryell / vocals
Larry Young / organ & keyboards
Ray Gomez / guitar
David Eubanks / bass
Abdul Hakim / percussion
Danny Toan / guitar
Jim Allington / drums
Al Lockett / flute, vocals & saxophone
Paula West / vocals
Barrett Young / percussion
Farouk Abdoul Hakim / percussion
Clifford Brown / percussion

Larry Young's final album is a wonderfully quirky strange album, the kind that only Larry can put out. Funky jazz, early progressive rock, lounge exotica, bizarre disco and other types of instrumental music all come together on this strangely naive album that was out of step with the sophisticated and slick world of jazz fusion in 1976. Larry's synthesizer tones leap out of the mix and sound like those novelty synth records from the late 60s, it is as if he has just discovered the synthesizer ten years after the fact.
Some bands and artists that might come to mind as you listen to this rare gem include Bo Hanson, Sun Ra, Keith Emerson, Return to Forever, Nina Rota, Tony Williams Lifetime, Les Baxter, Frank Zappa and especially Parlaiment/Funkadelic, particularly their prog-rock influenced keyboardist, Bernie Worell.

My favorite cuts on this album are the ones in which Young plays in an instrumental style that sits just between instrumental progressive rock and 60s exotic synthesizer records. His layered keyboards and synthesizers have that pure analog sound that was becoming harder to find in the late 70s. On the other hand, the tunes that are less successful are the disco leaning funky jazz tunes. These cuts may have been his attempt at commercialism, but after he added all his weird synth lines, they ended up sounding pretty bizarre, and a little too 'creative' for most dance floors.

Along with Young, another big star on this album is guitarist Ray Gomez, one of the great overlooked fusion guitarists of the late 70s and beyond. He plays a couple blazing solos as well as some rapid syncopated rhythms.

I don't think this album is for everyone, a lot of people would probably be turned off by the cheeezy exotica elements, but I happen to enjoy records that combine exotica with prog-rock/fusion ie Bo Hanson's Lord of the Rings, Fripp-Summers' Bewitched, Andy MacKay's In Search of Eddie Riff, Phil Manzenera's Primitive Guitars and Return to Forever's synthesizer based fusion. This album isn't quite weird enough to belong in one of those incredibly bizarre music compilations, but it is close.

Larry Young - 1975 - Larry Young's Fuel

Larry Young 
Larry Young's Fuel

01. Fuel For The Fire 6:06
02. I Ching (Book Of Changes) 6:25
03. Turn Off The Lights 7:05
04. Floating 4:13
05. H + J = B (Hustle + Jam = Bread) 6:19
06. People Do Be Funny 3:43
07. New York Electric Street Music 8:34

- Santiago Torano / guitars
- Larry Young / organ, synths and electric keyboards
- Fernando Sanders / bass
- Rob Gottfried / drums
- Laura Tequila Logan / vocals

Of the three strange solo albums that Larry Young put out in the 70s, Fuel is probably the least successful. It's not a terrible album, but not great either. There are two cuts that feature Larry's always unique take on instrumental progressive rock, one cut that is an outstanding minimalist polyrhythmic electro-funk pressure cooker and four funk/jazz numbers that feature vocalist Laura Logan. It's the four vocal numbers that drag the album down. Laura is a good vocalist in a nasal NYC jazz style sort of way, but when you combine that style of singing with the band's hyper jazz/funk grooves, the result makes the band sound like a happy hour combo in 1970s Harlem or Manhattan. These songs aren't particularly bad, I just expect better from Larry Young. The final cut on the album finally pushes things too far when Larry adds his 'vocals' that sound like a cross between Count Chocula and Fred Schneider of the B-52s. His bizarre urban beatnik lyrics are funny the first time you hear them, but don't hold up to repeat listens at all.
As usual with Young during this period, the prog-rock numbers, as well as almost the whole rest of the album, feature very raw and upfront unfiltered analog synthesizers. Larry was very unique in this respect in that his synthesizers still sounded like 60s synth novelty records well into the 70s. I could see this album as an acid jazz DJ's dream mystery disc with it's wealth of bizarre instrumentals and weird obscure hyper funk. I like this album, but I like almost anything by Larry Young. His personal and almost naïve take on any genre is always refreshing and curiously fascinating even when the results are uneven as they are on this album.

Larry Young - 1973 - Lawrence Of Newark

Larry Young 
Lawrence Of Newark

01. Saudia (4:30)
02. Alive (2:00)
03. Hello Your Quietness (Islands) (10:17)
04. Sunshine Fly Away (8:50)
05. Khalid Of Space Part Two (Welcome) (12:41)

Organ, Bongos, Vocals - Larry Young
Bass - Don Pate , Juni Booth
Bongos - Abdoul Hakim
Cello - Diedre Johnson
Congas - Stacey Edwards , Umar Abdul Muizz
Drums - Abdul Shahid , Howard King , James Flores
Drums, Electric Piano - Art Gore
Electric Piano - Cedric Lawson
Guitar - James Blood Ulmer
Percussion - Armen Halburian , Jumma Santos , Poppy La Boy
Saxophone - Dennis Mourouse
Trumpet - Charles Magee

Mystery guest on Saxophones and vocals: Pharoah Sanders

Even by Larry Young standards this is a strange album, which is to say this is a very very strange album, but also a very good one. There seems to be two different styles present on this album. Half of the songs are in a mystical psychedelic African fusion style, and the other half seem to be Young's unique take on minimalism, with the different instruments in his large ensemble playing repeating riffs in forceful, and sometimes almost chaotic fashion. The unifying factor throughout this album is a very low-fi production and purposefully sloppy mixing that has instruments at strangely mismatched volumes. Always one to chart his own course, Larry seems to be trying to strip any gloss or sheen off his music by not allowing any sort of post production work. On a couple of tunes you can actually hear the tape machine start up mid-jam while the band is already playing.
Trying to describe this music is a bit tough, but let's start with a mix consisting of a low-fi version of Santana's Caravanserai, some of Sun Ra's African grooves, John Cale's rock-minimalism experiments with Terry Riley, Miles' Bitches Brew with it's constantly noodling instruments bubbling up from the background and possibly Keith Emerson's distorted B3 extended psychedelic jams with the Nice. All throughout this album Larry's Hammond B3 is run through a variety of reverbs and distortion devices, and he constantly manipulates the tone bars creating shifting psychedelic sounds that can instantly rush from a shimmering whisper to a full on roar.

This album isn't for everybody, I think the lack of production values would be a big turn off for many, but for me the rough sound is part of this album's appeal. Larry's solos on here are powerful and creative as he proves he ranks high with the very best jazz fusion and progressive rock Hammond B3 artists. His massive ensemble is equally talented as the percussionists play hypnotic poly-rhythms and the saxophonists create counterpoints to Larry's bold melodies.

Larry Young - 1980 - Mother Ship

Larry Young 
Mother Ship

01. Mother Ship (7:35)
02. Street Scene (6:53)
03. Visions (6:41)
04. Trip Merchant (12:51)
05. Love Drops (7:05)

Recorded on February 7, 1969 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Organ - Larry Young
Drums - Eddie Gladden
Saxophone [Tenor] - Herbert Morgan
Trumpet - Lee Morgan

Recorded in 1969, Mother Ship would be Larry Young's last 'jazz' record, and his last recording for the Blue Note label. The cover of the album shows him in a traditionally dark jazz club wearing a black tie and coat, in a few months he would be wearing a dashiki and playing psychedelic jazz rock with Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix and Jon McLaughlin. For those interested in Larry's transition from jazzist to fusion rocker, this LP has a lot of music that shows Young clearly in between the two worlds, and obviously moving further away from jazz. A lot of the styles present on here will show up in a slightly harder form on Young's first solo fusion recording, Lawrence of Newark, and also on Tony William's original Lifetime recordings.
Three of the songs on here are in the semi-free swing based post hard-bop style that was made popular by the Miles Davis Quintet and Ornette Coleman. Drummer Eddie Gladden displays a lot of similarities to Tony Williams as he stretches the time and provides creative fills that add to the phrasing of the soloists. On these songs Young starts his solos with mysterious passages that swell out of the background and finally builds into furious assaults that recall avant saxophonists such as Coltrane and Pharoh Sanders.

Two other songs are in a quasi-rock style that has Young providing a steady pulse on the B3 pedals leaving Gladden to do his usual poly-rhythmic drum fills. Larry's solos on these two songs show the cross-influence that was beginning to happen between himself and early British progressive and/or psychedelic rock bands such as Trinity and the Nice. Although Mother Ship came out after Brian Auger and Keith Emerson were well established, there is no doubt that Young's early recordings had an effect on them, as their use of electronic effects and synthesizers would have an effect on Young. Emerson in particular seems to have picked up a lot listening to Larry's solos and chord voicings. Listen to Trip Merchant on this album for a good example.

If you have ever wondered what bands like the 60s version of Ornette Coleman's group or The Miles Davis Quintet would sound like with a quasi-psychedelic Hammond B3 player on board, or what the Nice would have sounded like with a jazz drummer, this is the album for you. Larry Young is brilliant throughout this album providing creative organ sounds that may remind some of Sun Ra, Nina Rota, Bo Hanson, the young Keith Emerson and sometimes even those quirky 60's exotica lounge records. All of the compositions and musicians on here are excellent!

Organist Larry Young's final Blue Note album, Mother Ship, was not released until 1980. Teamed up with tenor saxophonist Herbert Morgan, the great trumpeter Lee Morgan, and drummer Eddie Gladden, Young performs five of his originals, which range from the funky "Street Scene" and the samba "Love Drops" to a spacy "Trip Merchant" and the complex "Visions." This highly original set does not deserve to be so obscure.

Larry Young - 1968 - Heaven On Earth

Larry Young 
Heaven On Earth

01. The Infant (5:59)
02. The Cradle (5:02)
03. The Hereafter (8:42)
04. Heaven on Earth (6:05)
05. Call Me (7:27)
06. My Funny Valentine (4:37)

Recorded on February 9, 1968 At – Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

- George Benson / Guitar
- Byard Lancaster / Saxophone
- Larry Young / Organ
- Eddie Gladden / Drums
- Al Young / Vocals
- Herbert Morgan / Saxophone
- Althea Young / Vocals

After the brilliant Contrasts album on which Larry Young sounded like he was just about to step into his destiny as a leader in the new jazz fusion style, Larry throws us a curve ball with the inconsistent and sometimes backward looking Heaven on Earth. This isn't a terrible album, but I wouldn't recommend it to people seeking a first look at Larry's incredible B3 playing. Fortunately though, there is enough good on here to be worthwhile to hardcore Young fans like myself.
Larry is known for putting out albums that are stylistically all over the map, in that respect this album takes the cake. The album opener is Infant, a 'fun' soul-jazz number that isn't bad, but Larry had moved past this style years ago. Is this a blatant attempt to score a commercial hit? I love B3 based soul-jazz, but at this point in his career Young is capable of so much more. His playing on this one sounds dumbed down and uninspired.

The next two numbers are much better, in fact Hereafter belongs in the Larry Young hall of fame. This cut is a great mix of avant-African subtle polyrhythmic grooves with laid back spacey psychedelic Hammond sounds and a great guitar solo from George Benson. Although George is best know for his commercial work, when put to the test he can play modern jazz as well as, if not better than any jazz guitarist out there.

Side two opens with Heaven on Earth, another soul-jazz number, only this time Larry and his crew sound a lot more modern, inspired and aggressive. This cut shows Young playing in that forceful semi- minimalist style that he will explore further on Lawrence of Newark, plus there is a series of majestic chord build ups in the middle section that would make any caped prog-rock keyboard player jealous.

Next up Young switches styles again with a slightly off-kilter version of the lounge-jazz classic Call Me. This one may sound like easy listening to many, but Benson and Young throw in enough slightly avant twists to keep it interesting. The album closer is the classic jazz ballad My Funny Valentine, sung by Larry's wife Althea. Once again Young and Benson's accompaniments are unique and inventive, but overall the band plays this one pretty straight. Was this one more shot at a commercial hit?

I like this album, but I would not recommend it to anyone but already committed fans of Larry Young's totally unique musical vision and playing.

Larry Young - 1967 - Contrasts

Larry Young 

01. Majestic Soul (11:56)
02. Evening (7:10)
03. Major Affair (3:48)
04. Tender Feelings (4:29)
05. Means Happiness (6:51)
06. Wild Is the Wind (4:42)

Recorded on September 18, 1967 At – Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

- Larry Young / Organ
- Tyrone Washington / Saxophone
- Stacey Edwards / Conga
- Eddie Gladden / Drums
- Al Young / Vocals
- Eddie Wright / Guitar
- Herbert Morgan / Saxophone
- Hank White / Flugelhorn
- Althea Young / Vocals

After producing two albums that were fairly unified in their musical vision; 1965's Unity with it's dry cerebral post bop, and 1966's Of Love and Peace with it's restrained and tasteful avant-garde approach, Larry Young goes totally eclectic with Contrasts and gives us a strong hint of what he will be doing when he joins the growing psychedelic jazz rock movement in the next couple of years. Most jazz critics prefer the two previous albums with their easy to identify musical styles and abstract intellectual jazz approach, but I think Contrasts is more the true Larry Young album, quirky, strange, unpredictable and totally original.
The album opener, Majestic Soul, is my favorite. This is a hot groove number with loud upfront congas driving the beat. The horns add avant rushes of sound as does Larry with his B3, which seems to be getting louder and more rock like. This is getting very close to the psychedelic African jazz rock that Larry will perform on Lawrence of Newark. This is followed by Evening, a bizarre off-kilter bossa flavored lounge jazz number that veers into Sun Ra territory.

Next up is Major Affair, a high intensity duet featuring Young and drummer Eddie Gladden. It's hard to describe this one, I guess you could call this jazz, but it is more like some kind of avant prog rock with it's bizarre semi-classical melody and modern structure. I've always thought that Young had a big impact on Keith Emerson, and you can really hear it on this one. Tender Feelings follows with some hard bop swing with heavy snare hits that border on rock. All the soloists dig in and produce the hard groove of a late night club and keep things fresh and unpredictable with some colorful avant flourishes.

Means Happiness is an expressive modal drone number ala John Coltrane's Om. The horns scurry and blend in the background while Larry's Hammond shimmers on top. This kind of music always sounds like an ode to the sunrise. The album closes with the ballad standard Wild is the Wind. Strangely wild is this version with Larry's wife Althea providing deep vibrato heavy vocals that seem to come from an older era when jazz singers still had some operatic influence. Larry's organ playing is weird and barely audible till it swells like an ancient ghost in the lower registers and fades again. It's not my favorite, but it's hard not to respect something this odd and peculiar.

This album is great at showing where Young will be heading in the 70s, which is pretty much everywhere: psychedelia, jazz rock, prog rock, African fusion, lounge exotica, and some styles of his own invention.

For this interesting set, organist Larry Young (the first musician on his instrument to really move beyond Jimmy Smith's soul-jazz into the avant-garde) mostly utilized lesser-known musicians from the Newark, NJ, area: Tyrone Washington and Herbert Morgan on tenors, flugelhornist Hank White, guitarist Eddie Wright, drummer Eddie Gladden, and Stacey Edwards on congas. "Major Affair" is an organ-drums duet and Larry's wife Althea Young does a haunting version of "Wild Is the Wind," while the other four selections use all of the horns. The adventurous music is sometimes quite intense but also grooves in its own eccentric way, offering listeners a very fresh sound on organ.

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. 

Larry Young - 1965 - Unity

Larry Young

01. Zoltan (7:36)
02. Monk's Dream (5:45)
03. If (6:42)
04. The Moontrane (7:18)
05. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise (6:20)
06. Beyond All Limits (6:00)

- Larry Young / organ
- Elvin Jones / drums
- Woody Shaw / trumpet
- Joe Henderson / saxophone

Recorded November 10, 1965 At – Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Prior to this I believed that Jimmy Smith had completely monopolised the jazz organ domain during his lifetime but not so, as this excellent album can testify. Although it certainly inhabits a harsher and less accessible landscape than that explored by Smith, it will reward your time by being perhaps one of the less daunting routes to enter the forbidding world of hard/post bop. First of all please don't expect this to sound conventionally proggy in the least as you are listening to a 'straight no (sound)chaser' jazz album y'all?.

Visitors to this site will be familiar with the name Larry Young from the subsequent stints he did with Tony Williams Lifetime, Miles Davis (Bitches Brew) Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin and various other very badly dressed men in the burgeoning fusion movement of the early 70's.

At this point in his career after signing to the famous Blue Note label, there was a palpable modal influence to much of Young's playing via the avowed inspiration from developments in this area by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Considering he was only 25 at the time, Young certainly betrays no sign of being fazed by his illustrious and considerably more experienced sidemen of Woody Shaw (trumpet) Joe Henderson (saxophone) and Elvin Jones (drums)

Many of you may ask on first acquaintance with this album, and with good reason, Who plays the bass on this dude? Please be aware that Mr Young provides all the slinky bass lines heard on Unity using his foot pedals on the organ. Think about this for a moment, is that independence of four limbs OR WHAT? Jimmy Smith also dispensed with a dedicated bass player in identical fashion, but I suspect that this was more to avoid the session fees involved. (Jimmy was a notoriously grumpy git by all anecdotal accounts).

The good news is that very little here sounds remotely like the sort of jazz standards filler that Mr Smith used to clutter most of his trio records with. (I'm always exasperated by those jazzers who choose any old scrapyard wreck with which to show off their advanced driving skills)

Zoltan - presumably Shaw drew his inspiration from the Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly (a contemporary and drinking buddy/golf partner of Bartok?) This starts with Jones tongue in cheek (but still swinging) military march snare before heading off into a main theme that somehow transcends the inherent stiffness of any 2/4 pulse in a quite delightful way. Very effective and simple symmetry employed by ending the tune with a reprise of Jones parade ground snare.

Monk's Dream - It's hardly surprising that a tune from (the loneliest) Monk should elicit a nod of accord from Young, as both he and the composer share a fondness for angular motifs and unresolved harmonic destinations that lend their music a neurotic listless feel. Like so many of Monk's edgy and alien melodies, this is another that will invade your cranium unbidden, unidentified and usually at 4 am. (see Well You Needn't for an instance of a tune that becomes tantamount to a sleep virus) Elvin Jones short drum solo and rippling toms to the end are an unfettered joy on this.

If - A Joe Henderson number that deploys bop's habitual fractured and dislocated melodic writing utilising large interval leaps. This makes this avenue of jazz somewhat hazardous to negotiate but perseverance is the key to avoid indoor road rage provoked by prog snobs who might 'cut you off'. Your steadfastness will be rewarded by the subtle and implied harmonic structure being eventually revealed.

The Moontrane - Woody Shaw's enduring and memorable composition proves a fine springboard for the whole band to plunge headlong into some exhilarating interplay and improvisation. Another glorious drum solo from Elvin Jones that is carefully paced and unflinchingly musical i.e. it has a beginning, a development and a conclusion.

Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise - The original song was written by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein for a musical The New Moon (nah, I've never heard of it/them either) Judging by the results here, I would imagine that Tuxedo habitués of Broadway would be at a loss to recognise same under the welter of bristling license as taken by Young and Co. If this is a morning sunrise fellas, none of you ain't slept. (Darkness at noon more like, and transparently ironic)

Beyond All Limits - Despite my nagging dread inferred from the title, this does not generate into free form jazz wank mercifully. However it does deploy another common bop technique by using what I think are called 'through composed solos' i.e. the improviser plays through the harmonic changes in a linear fashion with the phrasing, melodic shape and pivotal points all imposed thereon by the listener (What, you mean we have to make the tune up ourselves!?) At the lukewarm primordial soup level of my understanding of any type of jazz....Yep, sort of. You do get accustomed to it after a while, and just remember, you get to hear MANY differing melodies from repeated listening to the same source materials this way.

Larry Young - 1964 - Into Somethin'

Larry Young 
Into Somethin'

01. Tyrone (9:37)
02. Plaza De Toros (9:35)
03. Paris Eyes (6:38)
04. Backup (8:36)
05. Ritha (6:43)

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on November 12, 1964. VanGelder and Stereo Stamp in Runout

- Larry Young / organ
- Sam Rivers / tenor saxophone (except on Ritha)
- Grant Green / guitar
- Elvin Jones / drums

Releases information
The 1998 CD reissue of the album contains a quartet version of Ritha, whereas Sam Rivers doesn't appear on the original version of the album.

Larry Young who like most organists originally sounded close to Jimmy Smith, took a big step away from the organ's dominant influence on this adventurous and colorful set, which was his debut as a leader for Blue Note. Performing with a quartet also including tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers, guitarist Grant Green and drummer Elvin Jones, Young performs four of his originals plus Green's "Plaza de Toros." Other than the blues "Backup," the music is fairly complex, grooving in its own fashion and showing that Young was quite aware of John Coltrane's modal excursions.

Larry Young - 1962 - Groove Street

Larry Young 
Groove Street

01. Groove Street (4:57)
02. I Found a New Baby (5:29)
03. Sweet Lorraine (9:27)
04. Gettin' Into It (14:27)
05. Talkin' 'Bout J.C. (5:56)

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ; February 27, 1962.

- Larry Young / Organ
- Bill Leslie / Tenor Saxophone
- Thornel Schwartz / Guitar
- Jimmie Smith / Drums

Larry Young's third and final Prestige recording (reissued in the OJC series on CD) concludes his early period; he would next record as a leader two and a half years later on Blue Note, by which time his style would be much more original. For his 1962 outing, Young is joined by the obscure tenor Bill Leslie, guitarist Thornel Schwartz and drummer Jimmie Smith for some original blues and two standards ("I Found a New Baby" and "Sweet Lorraine"). Nothing all that substantial occurs, but fans of Jimmy Smith will enjoy the similar style that Larry Young had at the time.

Larry Young - 1960 - Young Blues

Larry Young
Young Blues

01. Young Blues (06:28)
02. A Midnight Angel (02:24)
03. African Blues (04:55)
04. Little White Lies (04:15)
05. Minor Dream (05:03)
06. Something New/Something Blue (07:25)
07. Nica's Dream (06:39)

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ; September 30, 1960.

- Larry Young / organ
- Thornel Schwartz / guitars
- Jimmie Smith / drums
- Wendell Marshall / bass

Organist Larry Young's second recording (cut shortly before he turned 20) is the best from his early period before he completely shook off the influence of Jimmy Smith. With guitarist Thornel Schwartz in top form, and bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Jimmie Smith excellent in support, Young swings hard on a few recent jazz originals, some blues and two standards ("Little White Lies" and "Nica's Dream"). Recommended as a good example of his pre-Blue Note work.

The Larry Young Trio - 1960 - Testifying

The Larry Young Trio 

01. Testifying (9:52)
02. When I Grow Too Old to Dream (5:15)
03. Exercise for Chihuahuas (7:34)
04. Falling in Love With Love (5:04)
05. Some Thorny Blues (6:20)
06. Wee Dot (7:04)
07. Flamingo (5:23)

- Thornel Schwartz / guitars
- Larry Young / organ
- Jimmie Smith / drums
- Joe Holiday / tenor saxophone (on track 3 & 7)

Although he is often overlooked and forgotten, Larry Young is one of the most talented and creative jazz fusion keyboardists of all time. His contributions to jazz-rock and progressive rock place him in an ultra elite group that includes Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Jon Lord, Joe Zawinul, Brian Auger and Keith Emerson. 

Many feel that the creation of jazz-rock was the result of hard bop combining with psychedelic rock, if that is the case, Young is one of the very few musicians who worked in all three fields. His reputation in hard bop is legendary, as he is considered a top innovator and leader who worked with many of the greats in the field including Grant Green, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw and Sam Rivers. In the world of psychedelic rock, Young worked with two of the greatest, Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix. When jazz rock morphed into existence, Larry was on the front lines again playing with greats like Miles Davis, Tony Williams and Jon McLaughlin.

Larry Young's recording career started in 1960 when he was just 19. His first bluesy hard bop recordings show a huge Jimmie Smith influence, but over the years Young's restless creativity pushed him more towards an abstract modal style influenced by John Coltrane. In the late 60s his career as a B3 jazzist for the Blue Note label finally came to an end and Larry became interested in the new sounds of progressive psychedelic jazz fusion.

During the late 60s and early 70s Young was everywhere, recording for all the top musicians in the new jazz-rock genre, yet strangely enough you hardly ever hear his name mentioned at all. Part of the reason for this could be his strange unorthodox approach to the B3 in which he purposefully places himself in the background shifting the sound of the Hammond by pulling out and pushing in the drawbars to create rich tone colors and psychedelic effects. For a good example of this style listen to McLaughlin's Devotion or Santana-McLaughlin's Love Devotion and Surrender. Although Larry does not appear on Santana's Caravanserai, his influence can be heard in Greg Rolie and Richard Kermode's attempts to imitate him.

In the mid-70s Larry returned to making his own albums, but what strange albums they are. 'Lawrence of Newark' is excellent abstract African jazz with a big Coltrane influence, but the recording seems to be rough and crude on purpose. His last two albums sound more like naïve experimental music from the late 60s than anything that was happening during the mid-70s when the albums were released. I really enjoy these two albums with their quirky mix of dated funk, early prog-rock, lounge exotica, very raw synth tones and low-fi production, but they do not get very high ratings amongst the jazz and fusion critics.

There is a certain pathos that seems to go with Larry's life. After such a brilliant start as a star B3 player for Blue Note, his career seemed to slide into obscurity, even though he was working with some of the biggest names in jazz-rock. He was a member of Hendrix's last band, and stood to benefit from the massive exposure and money that would give him when Jimi suddenly passed away. In the 70s he seemed determined to stay obscure by releasing strange albums that seemed puposefully out of step with the times and then finally his tragic death due to neglect. 

Larry has always struck me as a wise and gentle old soul, someone who had a deep mistrust for materialism and insincerity, as well as someone who's own since of integrity would never let him compromise or sell out. Reast in Peace Larry Young, hopefully history will record and remember your incredible accomplishments in music. 

Organist Larry Young was 19 when he made this, his debut recording. Although he would become innovative later on, Young at this early stage was still influenced by Jimmy Smith, even if he had a lighter tone; the fact that he used Smith's former guitarist, Thornel Schwartz, and a drummer whose name was coincidentally Jimmie Smith kept the connection strong. R&B-ish tenor Joe Holiday helps out on two songs, and the music (standards, blues and ballads) always swings. Easily recommended to fans of the jazz organ.

Eef Albers Kwartet - 1981 - Skyrider

Eef Albers Kwartet 

01. Skyrider 7:21
02. Brown Eyes 4:38
03. Flamingo's Dance 5:26
04. Napalis 9:56
05. Take Me There 6:35

Bass – Wim Essed
Drums – Gerry Brown
Guitar – Eef Albers
Piano – Rob van den Broeck

Albers turned to the guitar at age 15; At the age of twenty, he was a sought-after session musician who also appeared as a soloist at concerts and on tours. Albers worked since 1972 in a trio with John Lee and Gerry Brown , which was partially expanded to include Daryl Thompson . In 1975 he presented his first album "Blue Capricorn" before; He also played regularly with Peter Herbolzheimer's Rhythm Combination & Brass , the Metropole Orkest and the BBC Orchestra . He was a member of Focus and Kraan groups . He also joined Jasper van't Hof and Ack van Rooyenwho both also appeared on his album "Pyramids" (1986). He also played with Bob Malach ("Some People"), Manfred Schoof , Stanley Clarke , Toots Thielemans , Simon Phillips and Steve Smith's "Vital Information". 

A taste of things to come, this album showcases Eef's original material and unique playing style. Check out the mood of the last track " Take Me There " for some classic Eef.