Unity: Larry Young and Black Music, from Soul Jazz to Free to Fusion
by
David Grundy

On the night of Tuesday, March 28, 1978, organist Larry Young (Khalid Yasin Abdul Aziz) was due to open a New York club with a new band.[i] His partner had just given birth to his third child, Aziza, and he’d signed a lucrative new deal with Warner Bros. But that afternoon Young was admitted to East Orange General Hospital, New Jersey, complaining of stomach pains: two days later, he passed away at the age of 37, supposedly of pneumonia. The exact circumstances of Young’s death remain unexplained. Over the previous two decades he had, as Tony Williams put it, “reinvented the [Hammond] organ,” his music encompassing several of Black music’s formative shifts, from soul jazz to free jazz to fusion. Yet, caught in a dwindling popular market, he sometimes found it impossible to find gigs towards the end of his life, and much of his work from this period remains obscure or unrecorded. This essay attempts to recover the depth of Young’s career as a whole, adopting the title to his best-known record, Unity, as a model of his musical approach, in order to emphasize the continuity that Young drew between different forms of Black music, and the importance of Newark, New Jersey to his work. “Unity” here is not hierarchical or fixed: rather, Young’s music envisioned a new form of pan-stylistic, collective playing, using the studio and live stage alike as laboratory in which to develop a mutable, improvisatory means of being together, an ever-morphing conception of ensemble.

 

Roots

Born to Agnes McCoy and Larry Young, Sr., in Newark, October 1940, Larry Young, Jr., was tutored at the piano by his grandfather before studying formally with Olga Von Till, a former student of Belá Bartók and a composer in her own right who also taught pianist Bill Evans.[ii] While Von Till imparted a formative sense of space and touch, Young’s musical roots lay above all in generations of Black music in Newark. Aged eleven, Young formed a five-piece band group The Challengers. Modelled on the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots, they would practice in the hallways in the housing projects on Belmont Avenue before the building guard would tell them it was time to go home.[iii] In 1954, his father opened a club called The Shindig: Young was drawn to the organ installed in the corner, “finding in the organ a number of potentialities which no other instrument could begin to offer.”[iv] Studying at Newark’s Arts High School, where fellow students included Wayne Shorter and Woody Shaw, Young began playing professionally at the age of 16, meeting Billie Holiday at a gig in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and playing organ and piano in both jazz and R&B contexts at venues like Newark’s Sugar Hill Club and the “well-known Tuesday carving-nights” at Len and Len’s on Warren Street.[v]

This was an environment dominated by the soul jazz and funky hard bop of the 1950s, epitomised in early hits like Horace Silver’s The Preacher (1955), Art Blakey’s Moanin’ (1959) and, above all, the Hammond organ recordings of Jimmy Smith. With roots in the Black church, the instrument tapped into what drummer Ben Dixon called “the beat of the people”: organist as preacher, in call-and-response forms that Newark native Amiri Baraka argues “permeates the entire culture.”[vi] Adapted to secular contexts influenced by the R&B Jump bands in which the likes of Smith and Wild Bill Davis had played, the stream of popular organ jazz that followed played on both sacred and secular registers, with hits for Smith like The Sermon, The Preacher and The Champ. The classic organ trio – Hammond B-3, electric guitar and drums, sometimes with added boss tenor – proved immensely popular, centring on cathartic, crowd-pleasing variations on relatively simple techniques: figures played against held high note screams, blues licks, call-and-response exchanges. The ability to play basslines with the foot pedals obviated the need for a bassist, meaning one less musician to pay, and the organ’s electric sound approximated the volume of the declining big bands: as drummer William Hooker notes, in the small, low-ceilinged club contexts in which such music was performed, the organ “goes through your body.”[vii] From such contexts a generation of musicians emerged who, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, had apprenticed in the R&B and soul jazz circuit: John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Tyrone Washington, Elvin Jones, Young himself.

In Blues People (1963), Baraka described hard bop, in comparison to R&B, as an “affected” “burlesque” of working-class music by middle-class, college-trained musicians. Nonetheless, he argued that hard bop’s “social aggression” laid the roots for the New Thing – a dialectical synthesis of bebop’s experimentalism and hard bop’s focus on roots.[viii] And as they would be with the emergence of the New Thing, white musicians and critics were often disgruntled at the state of affairs. In 1961, Nat Hentoff commented that “many white musicians do feel self-conscious [...] because their roots do not include [gospel, field hollers, and blues] and the general social and musical environment as a youngster that some Negro jazzmen believe to be necessary for authentication as a jazz player.” Likewise, John Tynan accused Black musicians of focusing “more on racialistic feeling as Negroes than the further development of jazz as art [...] as if they hurl the challenge at their white colleagues: ‘Copy this, if you can’”. In response, pianist Bobby Timmons argued: “The critics are predominantly white, and there is a further incompatibility. They don’t really know this music. In order to appreciate soul, you must have some of your own.”[ix] The success of musicians like Ray Charles and Cannonball Adderley in the white crossover market was more exception than rule. Much of the music took place in Black-owned clubs on the circuit: a loose network of Black-owned, Black-attended clubs and venues, through which musicians would organize tours from city to city. This circuit was in turn a subcategory of the better-known chitlin circuit, its audience, as poet David Henderson puts it, “the masses of blacks who were more often than not poor, making subsistence wages, or not working at all.”[x] Manifesting solidarity against Jim Crow, the circuit was, in Leonard Nevarez’s words, a “subaltern music industry [...] a regional geography of venues and affiliated activities that supplied entertainment and collective validation to black communities [...] like alveoli in an expanding lung of black culture”.[xi] At the same time, as Henderson notes, the term’s reference to the readily-available chitterlings (pig intestines), which remained popular in circuit venues served “symbolically to indicate the poor conditions available to great black music.”[xii] The circuit at once suggested the vital wellsprings of a vernacular style developed in Black-owned contexts and problems of segregation and neglect. As Stanley Turrentine recalled, the circuit meant: “a lot of small places, with bad sound systems, small audiences [...] eating in the car, sleeping in the car, with the organ in a little trailer in the back.”[xiii] And, while venues may have been Black-owned, the music’s wider dissemination still depended on white-owned record labels like Prestige and Blue Note.

Newark was a key part of the Northeast jazz circuit concentrated particularly in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York. Here Young encountered organists like Shirley Coleman, Freddie Roach, Jimmy McGriff and Rhoda Scott, and while still in his teens, he cut the first of three albums for Prestige Records, the self-described “label that gave birth to soul jazz.” Testifying (1960) finds him leading his own trio with drummer Jimmie Smith (no relation to the organist), and guitarist Thornel Schwartz, a veteran of Smith’s (the organist’s) groups, with a guest appearance by Newark mambo saxophonist Joe Holiday.[xiv] The title track emerges directly from Young’s early experience on the circuit. Written during a train ride home from a gig in the South, it picks up on the train’s “slow-rocking” motion, deploying the characteristic soul jazz build-up of repeated, accelerating licks, with the organ’s expression pedal adding a distinctive barking, jittery timbe. Yet in contrast to Jimmy Smith’s delirious sustained notes – roaring out over chords like a tenor screamer – and fat registration settings, Young is already playing more widely with registration, his tone alternating between brittle edges or soft swelling. Under Schwartz’s guitar solo, he switches between trills, swells, and fulsome, churchy chords, at once accompaniment and dialogue. On “Flamingo,” he opens with a glistening, rising figure that both fulfils and exceeds the tune’s generic framework. Following a sideman appearance on the Sonny Liston favorite, Jimmy Forrest’s Forrest Fire, Young recorded Young Blues the following month: a program of blues and hard bop, its highlight is perhaps Mo Bailey’s “Midnight Angel,” treated here with eerie, subdued melancholy, while “African Blues,” if only in its title, anticipates his later Afrocentric music. Young’s final Prestige date, Groove Street (1962) adds Louis Jordan veteran, saxophonist Bill Leslie, on tracks like the consummate blues jam “Getting into It,” its changes invoking Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader,” while “Sweet Loraine” combines sanctified ecstasy and rueful melancholy. Yet in the liner notes, Young already sounds his dissatisfaction with the genre: “I respect Jimmy [Smith] a great deal, but I just have my own direction. I want to get into something really deep on the organ ... something I feel hasn’t been gone into yet”.[xv]

In 1964, Young signed to Blue Note records, along with Big John Patton, Freddie Roach and Baby Face Willette filling the void left by Smith’s departure for Verve. The same year, Young converted to Sunni Islam through the influence of Newark saxophonist Herbert Morgan, who would appear on his later records. While non-Western spirituality is often associated with the New Music in the 1960s or spiritual jazz in the 1970s, many mainstream musicians had converted from the 1940s on. Over the next year, Young would work extensively with Grant Green, who had joined the Nation of Islam in the late 1950s, in part responding to the racism he faced in clubs: Richard Brent Turner describes him as “Elijah Muhammad’s favorite jazz convert.” [xvi] Green had recorded with McCoy Tyner on the unreleased Matador in May, and, in September, he invited current Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones to join for the Coltrane-influenced Talkin’ About. Developing a distinctive organ tone, at once nasal and warm, Young begins to play against the expected volume of the organ, deploying muffled or softened registrations so that even fast lines sound, in Richard Brody’s words, like “a murmur, musical asides spoken to himself [...] an interior monologue overheard”. Such playing combines with Green’s clean guitar lines and Jones’ drumming – his emphatic bass drum-work deriving from his playing on the circuit, while forming part of an expanded, polyrhythmic approach. The trio develops a uniquely spacious approach, exemplified here by Young’s composition “Luny Tune,” whose unused third and fourth bar force a rethinking of established patterns.[xvii]

For Into Somethin’ that November, Young added Sam Rivers, associated with the music’s developing avant-garde. The record showcases Young’s skills as composer. “Tyrone,” dedicated to his young son, Larry Young, III, offers a slyly hopeful feel, its 6/8 time offering what Young calls a “floating feeling,” the tune constructed “like a loose-leaf notebook. You can always take away from it or add to it.” Young’s speeding-slowing pacing offers accompaniment both subtle and dialogic, bursting into burbling triplets behind Rivers’ avant-gutbucket timbre. Green’s “Plaza Del Toros” offers a winning instance of the Spanish tinge, Rivers’ saxophone slurring and crying. Young’s own “Backup,” re-recorded from an unreleased session with Booker Ervin the previous year, offers a kind of drawled, staggered version of bebop. The album closes with “Ritha,” a ballad that combines intricate harmony – the melody connects several key centres – with a sharply poignant feel, Young’s melancholic tone sounding out as if through a fog.[xviii] In the liner notes to Talkin’ About, Young remarked: “this is the first time I’ve really arrived somewhere on records”. He was now ready to “drop out of the circuit and move out on my own.”[xix]

 

“Always together”

Eric Dolphy had died in Berlin that June, leaving unrealized a plan for an American all-star band including Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson, Richard Davis, and Billy Higgins. While in Paris, Dolphy had worked with tenor player Nathan Davis – later a fixture on the Pittsburgh jazz scene – and in fulfilment of Dolphy’s wish, Davis and Dolphy’s fiancé Joyce Mordechai invited Shaw to join him in Paris. In turn, Shaw invited Young and drummer Billy Brooks, his bandmates in an early Newark group.[xx] The group evinced an aesthetic at once local and international, their music shaped by Newark even at a distance as they played seven nights a week for a seven-week residency at Left Bank jazz club Le Chat Qui Pêche that December. Though there are no recordings from the residency, the band did record in various configurations for ORTF radio, including the broadcast of their performance at the L’Académie du Jazz gathering at La Locomotive in February, 1965. Malcolm X had just been denied a visa for a speaking engagement in France – a fact Davis announced from the stage. Two weeks later, Malcolm would be murdered.[xxi] In this context, the Afrocentric title of fellow Newarker Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile,” recently released on Shorter’s Night Dreamer, should not be underestimated. Davis seems to emerge from hard bop into Coltrane-inspired honks and cries over the course of a single solo, Young responding with responsive chordal blasts, soloing in fast spirals as if to exceed the already fast tempo, his single-note lines releasing into chords at once murky and brittle. Davis’ urgently cycling figures on Shaw’s “Zoltan” recall his work on Dolphy’s long-form “Springtime” the previous year, his buzzing trills and declarative held notes, along with Shaw’s lower-register buzzes and growls, occasionally gesturing towards the New Thing, while Young manages to channel both McCoy Tyner (on the keyboard) and Jimmy Garrison (in the foot pedals), before pulling out the organ’s stops in a noisy, swirling, orchestral fervour.

Following the Parisian residency, the Quartet went on tour, playing concerts in Berlin, Montreux, and Ronnie Scott’s in London, and recording Davis’ album Happy Girl, with Jimmie Woode on bass and Young on piano.[xxii] In the spring, Young returned to record for Blue Note, Shaw joined Horace Silver, and Brooks and Davis remained in Europe. Following two final dates with Grant Green – the ballad-focused I Want to Hold Your Hand, with hard bop stalwart Hank Mobley on tenor, and the more explicitly groove-oriented His Majesty King Funk, with Afro-Jazz pioneer Cándido Camero on congas – Young’s next record as a leader cemented the work begun in Paris. [xxiii] Recorded in November with Brooks replaced by Elvin Jones and Davis replaced by Joe Henderson, a new colleague of Shaw’s in Silver’s band, Unity remains Young’s best-known album. Shaw’s “Zoltan” opens the record, its A section based on the march from Zoltán Kodály’s opera Háry Janos, the B section opening out through Jones’ rolling, clattering triplets, Shaw’s wailing high notes and Henderson’s sandpaper growls, while Young himself constantly darts away from and reiterates the piece’s chordal base. Kodály’s Háry Janos is a peasant, a veteran, and a teller of tale tales who the composer suggests is a “natural visionary and poet.”[xxiv] For Kodály, folklore and the vernacular can create a “beautiful dream world” that both exceeds a world of imperial wars and contains within it the seeds of a nationalist politics.[xxv] Rather than nationalism per se, however, musicians like Nathan Davis, Shaw and Young interpreted Kodály (and Bartók) in terms of a roving, trans-national aesthetic – what Davis calls “the Hungarian Gypsy Folk tradition” – even as Kodály and Bartók themselves de-emphasized the role of Romani cultures in Hungarian “national” folk music.[xxvi] Davis’ comment suggests an idea of jazz as a transnational music that, along with the Spanish tinge of “Plaza del Toros” from Young’s previous record, presages Jimi Hendrix’s conception of a “Band of Gypsies.”  These are creolized, Black Atlantic conceptions that are about the affirmation of Blackness and Black Unity (to fuse Young and Pharoah Sanders), but a Black unity that is also impure, diasporic, refusing the terms set by universalist conceptions of whiteness.

“Zoltan” fades out on Jones’ martial rhythms – Janos’ dream world disappearing – for “Monk’s Dream,” his first recorded duet with a drummer. While Thelonious Monk’s music might seem unimaginable without Monk’s own percussive, pianistic attack, Young finds numerous ways to adapt – low-to-high register runs, off-centre rhythmic leaps, pauses and switches in direction that form a kind of improvisational meta-commentary, with the track’s final, weightless chord subverting the conventional clamorous closing cadence. Likewise, on Joe Henderson’s “If,” a subversion of the harmonic content of the blues within the twelve-bar form, Young moves from drone-like lower register sounds to sudden upper register dissonances which momentarily depart the tune’s harmonic framework before coming back “inside” in an exhilarating tightrope act. Yet while Unity remains Young’s best-known work he was already preparing to move outside such parameters.

 

“Space conversations”

Though he toured on piano with Lionel Hampton’s band in 1967, Young’s primary association over the next few years was with the New Thing. He reportedly played with Cecil Taylor and with saxophonists Frank Wright and Byard Lancaster. With Lancaster –  part of an emerging scene that became the Loft Jazz Movement of the 1970s – and drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt, he formed a trio that played Slugs’, Philadelphia’s Birdland, and DC’s Bohemian Caverns in 1968. Young was also a regular at Slugs’ Saloon, a small but popular venue which hosted Albert Ayler and Sun Ra: Ra’s Arkestra would parade out onto the street, where they would be joined by local conga players.[xxvii] Milan Simics recalls: “When [Slugs’] became popular, they built another stage in the back and got a baby grand and you could fit either a quintet or Larry Young’s B-3 electric organ.”[xxviii] Young played here with various groups: most notably, in a sadly unrecorded trio with Dewey Redman and Rashied Ali in December 1968.[xxix] John Coltrane was fascinated by Young’s conversion to Islam. Young’s wife Althea notes that the two would “go into [Coltrane’s] studio for hours on end” to play duets, while Young himself recalled: “I used to have space conversations with John Coltrane, and we’d talk about purposes.”[xxx] As well as an interest in spirituality, Young shared with Coltrane a sense of the New Music diametrically opposed to that of white critics who attacked the music as “angry” or even “racist.” Rather than eliding political consciousness with the stereotypes used to nullify expressions of Black agency, they saw their music as affirming current ways of Black being in the world and imagining alternative ways the world itself might be. Free jazz was not a destruction of what was – though it moved beyond a monovocal notion of jazz tradition – but the creation of something new, an addition to the world, an enriched and deepened sense of “unity.”

While many accounts of the New Music deploy terms such as “struggle” as metaphorical analogies, the musicians themselves were just as likely to involve terms connoting acceptance, peace and wholeness. Young’s next album was entitled Of Love and Peace: before recording the album, the musicians went on a two-week spiritual retreat. Once more, “being together” was an all-encompassing concept that went beyond the merely musical. Young recorded the album with a sextet comprised of trumpeter Eddie Gale, then working with Cecil Taylor, Blue Note veteran James Spaulding on flute and alto, and, from Newark, tenor saxophonist Herbert Morgan and two drummers, Jerry Thomas and Wilson Moorman, III – a configuration inspired by a Muslim banquet that Young had attended in Newark soon after his conversion.[xxxi] Morgan, who Young described as “like a brother to me,” had influenced his turn to Islam: remaining in Newark until his passing in 2013, he later worked with the Latin group Ocho and in Baraka’s Blue Ark Ensemble. Here, his thick tone contrasts Spaulding’s smooth, slightly acid alto, while Gale’s trumpet takes on the timbre of ambulance and police sirens, as if the sounds of the modern city had seeped into each note. In doubling both horns and percussion, the music is correspondingly denser than that of Unity, though the album likewise opens with an adaptation of a popular classical piece. Morton Gould’s “Pavane,” the second movement of his Swing-inspired American Symphonette (1938), was a tune Young had heard while a teenager at a time when Gould’s light classical compositions were ubiquitous on radio and film.[xxxii] Out of an opening collective improvisation, fragments of Gould’s melody gradually emerge in Morgan’s tenor. Gale tosses high notes in the air with half-valve cries breaking and bending a discernible line; Spaulding’s tumbling, repeated figures offer what A.B. Spellman’s liner notes calls “gentle screams”, while Young himself seems to be inventing a whole new vocabulary on the spot – chords morphing into drones, trills, interrupted riffs. The return of Gould’s melody from the final collective horn improvisation sounds out like a shaft of sunlight.

Of the title track, Young observes: “I told no one how to play. I told them it was all free and that, since no one was doing anything contrary to anyone else, there could be no problem.” The horns trace independent melodic lines in a kind of improvised chorale; Young’s solo coming in and out of focus like an approaching and receding object on the horizon. Following an arrangement of “Seven Steps to Heaven” which joyously and irreverently plays catch the melody, a second “spontaneous composition,” “Falaq” begins from a motif that Young played as a kind of signal the other musicians were free to echo or ignore. Taking its name from surah 113 of the Qur’an, generally known in English as the “daybreak” surah, the piece’s Arabic title connotes “splitting” more broadly, serving as a useful figure for the music – a splitting that is also emergence, a division that is also a call to unity.[xxxiii] While Morgan’s and Gale’s smears and trills emphasize sound and emotion over melody and tonal centre, their playing remains essentially contemplative, the piece ending in a sudden, magical hush on an abrupt chord and final tap of the cymbals. As critic Alain Fernier wrote, the record manifested “an atmosphere of peace and serenity, almost ecstatic, even an the most rapid tempos. It was beautiful and unusual in ‘free’ music.”[xxxiv]

For Contrasts (1967), Morgan returns on tenor, while Tyrone Washington on tenor and Hank White on flugelhorn replace Spaulding and Gale, and guitarist Eddie Wright and conga player Stacy Edwards take their place alongside Eddie Gladden, Young’s childhood friend and a long-time collaborator. Like Young and Morgan a devout Muslim, Washington would retire from music in the mid-70s, taking the name Bilal Muhammad Abdullah. In Newark during the 1960s, he had, as Woody Shaw recalled, been known as “T-Ball:” “Tyrone, Eddie Gladden, [pianist and organist] Les Walker, and Larry Young would have sessions to play free ... turn lights out and go mad ... Couple bottles of beer and some wine and look out!’”[xxxv] Following Joe Henderson’s departure from Horace Silver’s group, Shaw had recommended Washington as a replacement: when the two increasingly began to play outside, Silver fired the entire band.[xxxvi] If such incidents suggests the generational tensions the New Music sometimes precipitated, albums like Washington’s Natural Essence and Gale’s Ghetto Music (both 1968), along with Contrasts, suggest Baraka’s contemporaneous conception of free jazz, R&B and blues as part of the “ever changing same” of Black Music.[xxxvii]

Critic Larry Kart suggests that a “passionate need to exceed itself [was] at the heart of Washington’s music”, the presence of traditional stylistic patterns only emphasizing “the mood of turbulence and flux” as Washington moved inside and outside the changes. “Even though the music of Washington and his mid-sixties peers was less openly radical than that of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman,” Kart concludes, “it was by no means a separate phenomenon. Indeed, the strains of transition that supposedly were confined to the jazz avant-garde may have been even more violently felt in the music that lay, so to speak, just to the Right of it.”[xxxviii] And, on Contrasts, more extensive arrangements – horn riffs behind solos, echoes of hard bop and bossa – combine with the feeling of Of Love and Peace, as joint saxophonists Washington and Morgan entwine with singular intensity.

“Majestic Soul” develops from an organ and guitar vamp and broiling percussion, its theme a two-note riff ending in open-ended screams that synthesize James Brown and Albert Ayler, its loose structure leaving the music’s emotional direction up to each soloist: Washington and Morgan’s textural smears, Hank White bluesy and swinging, Young alternately droning, chattering, stuttering and testifying. “Evening,” a more inside piece, has a feeling of wistful calm, while “Major Affair,” a Young-Gladden duo, exploits dissonance, tension and release, with Gladden’s constant cymbal patter supplemented by insistent bass drum iterations and re-iterations. A vocal feature for Young’s wife Althea, “Wild is the Wind” finds the organist, as William Hooker notes, “complet[ing] the chord in the left hand according to what the right hand is doing,” creating a ‘swirling’ effect.” These swirling chords form a floating mass of solid air behind vocal vibrato, cracks, and melisma, the drawn-out articulation of the word “caress” echoed in a descending keyboard figure that seems to form a caress of its own, with Gladden’s fluttering cymbals between whispered breeze and barely-contained storm. Closing piece “Means Happiness” – reportedly a favorite of Young’s – develops from a majestic melody with something of the agitated serenity of late-period Coltrane, soaring and screaming out in the twin saxophones in a glorious five-minute encapsulation of the ecstatic elements of Young’s music.

Young’s final recordings for Blue Note suggested a music in transition. The title to Heaven on Earth (1968), is taken from an article in Muhammad Speaks which suggested to Young “those different moments in which a man can peacefully communicate with his surroundings [...] speaking to people on the street.” Young observed in the liner notes that “my thing is to bridge the gap between the new and older roots.”[xxxix] Though featuring Byard Lancaster, the music marks a return to soul jazz, combining “Watermelon Man”-style funk with standards and reverting to a more conventional theme-solos-theme structure. Young’s final Blue Note session, Mother Ship, was recorded in February 1969, its instrumentation paralleling that of Unity: Lee Morgan for Woody Shaw, Herbert Morgan for Joe Henderson, Eddie Gladden for Elvin Jones. The record itself, however, contained the seeds of music of a very different kind: the B section of Young’s composition “Visions” would form the basis for “Allah Be Praised” on Lifetime’s Turn It Over the following year, while a phrase from Lee Morgan’s solo on “Trip Merchant” sounds uncannily similar to the main theme from “Pharoah’s Dance” on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, recorded that May.[xl] And Morgan’s oddly-poised solos, along with Young’s dialogic accompaniment, develop a questing use of space that moves beyond virtuosic assurance with glimpses – intentional or not – of new territories ahead.

 

“Like getting run over by a train”

By 1969, Jimi Hendrix was the world’s highest-paid rock star. Like Young, however, he had emerged from the chitlin circuit.[xli]  That spring and summer, following the break-up of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and his return from England, he sought to reconnect with the Black roots of the music. In the build-up to the Woodstock Festival in August and the formation of a Band of Gypsys in October, Hendrix convened a near-constant stream of jam sessions in Woodstock and New York. Notable participants included percussionist Juma Sultan (collaborator of Barbara Donald and Sonny Simmons and later a fixture of the New York Loft Jazz Scene) as well as Phillip Wilson, Dave Holland, John McLaughlin and, reportedly, Sam Rivers.[xlii] In May, Young and Hendrix laid down a twenty-minute jam at the Record Plant studios, meshing on choppy, bluesy figures around simple tonal centers.[xliii] Meeting on unchallenging middle ground, as Young himself told his brother Barrett, “I pushed him just enough for him to stay interested and have some fun.” But poet and Hendrix biographer David Henderson’s description of a live performance at Woodstock’s Tinker Street Cinema suggests the nascent possibilities of such work in what could easily be a description of Young’s own later Lawrence of Newark band.

The sound of the organ live in the wooden-walled space of the little old theatre, like an old frontier church, was thrilling; merged with Jimi’s Stratocaster, the combined sounds exhilarated chills in the nervous system. [...] The congas popped and rumbled, shaking, vibrating the wood slats of the room, the sound making one aware of the very earth beneath. [...] At one point there were 25 musicians playing on stage.[xliv]

That spring, drummer Tony Williams recruited Young for a new group modelled on the classical soul jazz organ trios in which Williams, too, had played as a teenager, but drawing on the energies and volume level of rock.[xlv] Sonny Sharrock reportedly turned down the role of guitarist, claiming that he didn’t wish to play rock music, and Williams instead recruited British musician John McLaughlin, who he’d never met, on the basis of a demo tape. Williams was reportedly anxious that Miles Davis would attempt to steal his new band, and a rumour persists that Young was originally slated to play organ alongside Williams and McLaughlin on Davis’ In a Silent Way that July, but was carefully manoeuvred from the studio by Williams, and replaced by Joe Zawinul.[xlvi] Young nonetheless played on Bitches Brew in August, one of three electric pianists on “Pharoah’s Dance” and “Spanish Key.” He also played organ on then-unreleased tracks “Trevere,” “The Big Green Serpent,” and “The Little Blue Frog,” his dissonant chords on the former anticipating Davis’ own organ clusters on pieces like “Rated X.”[xlvii]

All three musicians in Lifetime brought an equal flexibility in R&B, mainstream jazz, and avant-garde contexts. For Williams, however, the principal influences were the success of white rock bands like The Beatles and Cream and the electric sounds of Hendrix’s first record. For Young, playing in Lifetime on bills with rock bands introduced him to music of which he’d not been previously aware: “When we did that recording there was like an underground. I was getting exposed to all this, people who were involved with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Grand Funk; before I was into a jazz thing.”[xlviii] In order to compete with the ferocious volume of McLaughlin and Williams, Young transformed his own style. Playing with volume, distortion and overdrive in a similar manner to rock guitarists, his approach also suggests a mutant version of the high-volume, “organ-as-big-band” Hammond players like Wild Bill Davis and Bill Doggett.[xlix] Likewise, Young transforms Jimmy Smith-style riffs and held notes into static, anti-developmental blocks of sound and drones that tend to erase harmonic movement. Seeking to escape the clichés of the circuit, Young also drew from the elements of his apprenticeship, at once reinventing and fulfilling the potential of the Hammond in an entirely new context.

As Scott de Veaux argues, at the time, “rock itself had become a kind of avant-garde counterculture.”[l] In May 1969, Lifetime recorded the double album Emergency for the major British-German label Polydor, in whose catalogue it shared space with Marion Brown, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and Return to Forever. The album’s poor mixing added a grungy, garage-rock style sound that further emphasized the music’s abrasive qualities, perhaps nowhere more evident than in the title track, whose repeating chordal figure is delivered in unison by McLaughlin’s fuzz-drenched guitar and Young’s organ with all stops pulled out. Young’s playing constantly pushes over into the realm of noise, deploying the organ’s “percussion” settings to give the notes a shuddering, pulsing effect (“Vashkar”), sustaining notes to form eerie, pulsating drones (“Where”), or playing chords that sound more like clusters than traditional comping (“Beyond Games”). While the second record in particular gestures more towards rock (“Via the Spectrum Road,” “Something Spiritual”), a general orientation towards long-form, suite-like structures (“Sangria for Three”) refuses the narrative momentum of either jazz chord changes or the constant release of the pop song. Album closer “Something Spiritual” ends with a proto-noise music wall of sound – repeated guitar strums, ride cymbal crashes, and white noise organ – and such moments were extended even further in the band’s live performances, which those in attendances recall as revelatory. William Hooker, for instance, recalls a show at New York club Ungano’s as “like getting run over by a train.”[li]

Playing to jazz audiences at small clubs such as Slugs’ and to younger, white rock fans at Ungano’s or larger venues, Lifetime was not always understood by either camp. Booed both on a bill with The Who in Boston in 1970 and the following year at the Berlin Jazz Festival, Lifetime, as Kevin Fellesz has suggested, were equally misunderstood by those who gathered under “rock’s banner of (white) universalism, or, indeed, of jazz’s ‘color blind’ universalism.”[lii] In the pages of periodicals such as Downbeat, white critics nostalgically sought a time before what they perceived the racialized militancy of free jazz – a democratic, color-blind ideal.[liii] At the same time, they decried rock music as infantile and adolescent, in comparison to the adult authenticity of “real jazz”.[liv] Interviewed for Downbeat by Pat Cox in May 1970, Williams dismissed both “jazz” and “rock” as “bad words,” while stressing the roots in Black culture not only of Lifetime but of American music in general:

The thing that’s happening now, it’s all dominated by black culture [...] Musically, it’s all black [...] Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, even my father [saxophonist Tillmon Williams]. I’m not going to let them just be in vain. I’m not going to let the black experience be in vain.[lv]

Yet fusion was often understood as a crossover form in which largely white musicians working primarily within a Black form reached largely white pop and rock fans.[lvi] Likewise, producer David Rubinson saw the term “jazz fusion” as a kind of code or shorthand: “Jazz fusion meant ‘white people’, ‘Oh, this band has some white people in it’. It meant white people playing black music.”[lvii] Within Lifetime, both McLaughlin and, later, Jack Bruce, made their name in British adaptations of Black musical styles, whereas Young and Williams had grown up playing such music in the contexts in which it had originated, generally to considerably less financial reward. Williams expressed frustration with white audiences who “listen to [music] to identify with it,” yet, because “they can’t imagine themselves being black,” identify only with white musicians, who in turn become the most financially, popularly and critically successful proponents of new musical forms. As he noted, when Lifetime played in front of largely white rock audiences, audience members would crowd around McLaughlin, largely ignoring Williams and Young.[lviii] Though, as Williams suggested, Young was “the real genius of that band,” too often, fusion audiences fetishized the virtuosity of white players – from McLaughlin to Jaco Pastorius – over the work of Black musicians like Williams and Young.

Such considerations may have led to the expansion of Lifetime’s trio format with the addition of former Cream bassist Jack Bruce for their second album, Turn It Over. Yet Williams also insisted on an aggressively minimal album packaging – no liner notes, the phrases “PLAY IT LOUD” and “PLAY IT VERY LOUD” emblazoned in all caps, designed as his riposte to jazz critics. For guitarist Karl Evangelista, Turn It Over functions as “a sort of concept album whereby the musicians are both playing ‘at’ genre as much as ‘with’ genre”: from Jobim’s “Once I Loved” to Coltrane’s “Big Nick” to the rock-like “Right On.”[lix] With the album’s shorter tracks –culled from lengthier recordings – focusing more on driving riffs than improvised extemporisation, Young increasingly provides background drones, like sheets of ice or glass. Yet, on a November 1970 bootleg from Newcastle’s City Hall – one of the stops on the band’s three-month UK tour – Young plays countless blazing, distorted solos to which McLaughlin and Bruce play constant catch-up. During this tour, Young would deliver solo performances, offering drones and white-noise washes of colour that recalled the Afrofuturist electronics of Sun Ra Young had witnessed at Slugs’ as well as the drones of another Young, LaMonte: white-hot blasts of noise, molten light. McLaughlin and Bruce recall reactions from laughter to tears in disbelief at the sounds emerging from the organ.[lx]

After tensions between Bruce’s and Williams’ management scotched the recording of a third album, Bruce and McLaughlin departed in April 1971, and Williams now reformed the band into a larger, all-Black ensemble. McLaughlin was replaced by Ted Dunbar, whose warmer jazz guitar sound opened up entirely different textures; Ron Carter and Juini Booth alternately took the bass chair. Most notably, moving towards a collective ethos, Williams added two percussionists – conga player Don Alias, fresh from Miles Davis’ band, and, on tympani, marimba, and gongs, Warren Smith, then working in Max Roach’s percussion ensemble M’Boom. [lxi]

The band’s third album, Ego emphasizes Williams’ compositions, from “There Comes a Time,” later a regular feature for the Gil Evans Orchestra, and the insinuating, stop-start groove of “Circa 45,” with Smith’s burbling marimba offsetting the main melody, to the wistfully doomy “Lonesome Wells,” and the serpentine, contrapuntal “The Urchins of Shemese.” The latter features Young’s sweeping dissonances, which glance over and float away from the surface of the harmonic structure. Live, such pieces were incorporated into improvised, long-form suites. In a televised appearance from the Montreux Jazz Festival, Young’s playing works with drones and colours, whistle tones and clusters. Held notes fray at the edges with alien beeps: overlayered morse code, messages getting through on radio static, offering slowly morphing textures that alternately accentuate and blur the edges of the compositions that rise in and out of the flow. The familiar, urgent chords to “Emergency” are rendered ghostly, the sinuous melodic lines of “The Urchins of Shemese” as bursts of chattering, shattering white noise. At the Berlin Jazz Festival later that year, a version of Williams’ “Pee Wee,” first recorded for Miles Davis’ Sorcerer, brings to mind Baraka’s characterization of Davis’ music circa 1967: “contradictory, subdued yet bright [...] background and foreground seemingly exchang[ing] places constantly.[lxii] Yet the dense ambiguity of such music – exacerbated, perhaps, by Williams’ off-key vocals – did not go down well with audiences. The audience in Berlin can be heard booing. In July 1972, Young left the group to pursue his own direction.

 

Lawrence of Newark

Young’s first main group after Lifetime appears to have been Love Cry Want, established with Washington-area musicians: drummer Joe Gallivan – who co-led an unrecorded big band with Donald Byrd in the early 1960s, and established a long-running duo with saxophonist Charles Austin – percussionist Jimmy Molnieri, and mononymous guitarist Nicholas. The group played a series of outdoor “jazz-in-the-park” gigs and club concerts, Young and Nicholas wearing robes and Gallivan his outfit from touring with soul singer Wilson Pickett.[lxiii] A perhaps apocryphal story suggests that, when the group played Lafayette Square, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, then-president Richard Nixon ordered the power disconnected for fear the sounds would levitate the building.[lxiv] Likewise, while the band recorded studio tracks for Columbia, Young suggested the music was “too far out for them to put out [...] Some people listened to it and it was so intense they fainted.”[lxv] Eventually released by Gallivan’s New Jazz label in 1997, the music appears largely improvised. Nicolas and Gallivan deploy prototype guitar and drum synthesizers whose ring modulation combine with Young’s distorted organ to produce a blurry squall – a thick, soupy sound, with moods varying between serene squall and agitated peace. Young uses riffs or melodic figures to signal changes of direction, providing structural guidelines within spontaneously morphing soundscapes: from the loud, chattering riffs that dominate opener “Peace” to the seething calm of the ring-modulation drenched “Tomorrow, Yesterday Will Be Today.” On “The Great Medicine Man,” a repetitive figure in the organ’s extreme high register later returns in the bass, suggesting Young’s ability to think in terms of overall structure as well as ever-changing, moment-to-moment detail.

Back in Newark and New York, Young continued to experiment with collective improvisation in larger groups. Newark Journalist George Kanzler recalls Young – generally using the name Khalid Yasin – running a loft in a former stable near the Elizabeth Avenue end of High Street (Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard) “that attracted a lot of younger jazz and R&B musicians from around Newark.”

They played long, long jams with lots of hand percussion (rattles, bells, etc.) as well as drums and horns. Khalid usually wore a [kaftan] and a [ghutra]. To me it was a sort of Islamic take on the spiritual stuff Dr. John and Pharoah Sanders were putting down at the time.[lxvi]

Young had begun wearing kaftans and a ghutra while in Lifetime, and it may be around this time that the “Lawrence of Newark” moniker developed in joking reference to David Lean’s 1962 film. Newark pianist Robert Banks “recalled seeing Young in his later years standing quietly on a hill in Central Park, carrying a staff and looking every bit the part of a shepherd overseeing his flock”.[lxvii] In wearing a kaftan and ghutra with agal, Young followed in the footsteps of musicians like Lyn Hope, the barwalking saxophonist Baraka had immortalised in his 1963 story “The Screamers,” and who, after converting to Islam, performed in what critics referred to as a “turban.”[lxviii] Young shared Hope’s populist inclinations, even as his music strove at the edges of the given. Billed as Continuous Prayer, a nonet played New York’s Town Hall in November 1973, Young telling Coda that he hoped the new band would “communicate a warm, vibrant form of jazz-rock to everyone, down to the street level.”[lxix] As she recalled in 2021, cellist Diedre Murray was part of Young’s group under her birth name Johnson: her first major gig before playing with Hannibal Marvin Peterson and her superlative work with Henry Threadgill and Fred Hopkins. Murray had been part of the scene around percussionist Warren Smith’s Studio WIS, and with Smith’s student, drummer Napoleon Revels-Bey, sat in with Larry Young at Slugs’, after which she was invited to join the band.[lxx] Murray recalls the band as a loose collective without a defined name or stable line-up:

It was an Afro collective, a sound rush. [Young] was playing with Pharoah Sanders and he had what seemed like 15,000 drummers. I don’t think it was a set piece although the drummers would often play with him, along with musicians like bassist Juini Booth, and Pharoah would play all night.[lxxi]

For Murray, these rhythmically dense settings were both a “modernization” of the rhythmic drive of older organ trios and, echoing M’Boom, Sun Ra, or Archie Shepp’s Magic of Juju, “an Afrocentric energy music going around and around and around.” During performances, Young played almost continuously, directing the band with little more than a gesture or a glance. The other musicians produced “sonic paintings, soundscapes; everything else, whether it’s cello, trumpet, or whatever going ‘Amen, Amen,’ while he’s just painting and painting and painting and painting.” As Richard Brody wrote of Young’s work in 2016: “[These] groups aren’t just collections of soloists; they create not just an original sound for themselves but an original quasi-orchestral sound. In forming a band, they renovate the very notion of a band itself.”[lxxii] For Young himself, this approach emerged from his innovations in organ playing, not as the basis for individual virtuosity, but as contribution to collective texture. As he told Howard Mandel in 1975, during this era:

I was mainly into other than playing melodies. I was into different colors and sounds of frequencies. I didn’t deal with playing chords no more. What I was dealing with was just sounds. I learned to do that by playing with other people. Though I had a band I still wanted to blend. Because you’re more with people and it’s more real.[lxxiii]

Sometime in 1973, Young assembled a twenty-piece group at Eddie Korvin’s Blue Rock recording studios in Soho, including Murray, Pharoah Sanders (credited as “Mystery Guest” for contractual reasons), trumpeter Charles McGhee, guitarist James Blood Ulmer, and no less than eight percussionists.[lxxiv] As well as Young’s organ, identifiable voices include Murray’s unamplified cello, intertwining with Pharoah Sanders’ unmistakable cries, Dennis Mourouse (later music director for Steve Wonder) doubling Sanders on electric saxophone, adding textural grit to the sound. On the blissful, bucolic “Sunshine Fly Away,” individual voices emerge into and out of the repeated bassline, overlapping not so much in the manner of call-and-response as a of a collective conversation which any musician is free to take up. The noisier “Khalid of Space,” meanwhile, emerges from a granite-like organ blast, emphasizing a scrabbling, scrawny lower end. The beginning and ending point of each piece often appear arbitrary – tracks sometimes appear to begin in the middle, or cut off before the end, fragments cut from a more extensive cloth. A reviewer in Jazz Digest was not impressed, seeing the record as based “almost entirely on rhythmic interplay and textural contrast, to the neglect of melodic content and recurrent harmony” – the same criticism levelled at free jazz. Yet this was precisely the music’s innovation, “rhythmic interplay and textural contrast” forming a compelling, continually shifting environment which paradoxically exists in a kind of plateaued stasis. Guitarist Karl Evangelista suggests that “the record engages with psychedelic rock and presages hip-hop in both its textural complexity and commitment to rhythmic stasis.” Further parallels include the use of bass echo and delay in the early dub of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and King Tubby.[lxxv] Combining the large-group free improvisations of Of Love and Peace with the rhythmic emphasis of Lifetime to create a new kind of hybrid, Young at once merged and collided genres in an explosion of energy for which one might well invoke Kodwo Eshun’s term “jazz fission.”[lxxvi]

Astonishingly, Lawrence of Newark was Young’s first record as a leader to be released since 1967, and the album’s minimal packaging – consisting simply of personnel, track names, and two blurred close-ups of Young – gave little sense of where this music had come from, particularly given that record label Perception Records collapsed soon after. In 1972, Young had appeared on John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana’s certified gold Coltrane tribute Love Devotion and Surrender. Playing with the group to large rock audiences in venues such as the Phoenix Celebrity Theatre the following summer, his primarily textural contribution is backgrounded by a duelling guitars format critic Len Lyons compared to the drum battles of the Gene Krupa/Buddy Rich era.[lxxvii] The same year that Young played with the McLaughlin and Santana line-up, drummer William Hooker remembers a duo with Eddie Gladden in a Manhattan vegetarian restaurant, attended by just two people. Young himself recalled:

I’d always be doing something, like at home, I’d go around where the local cats play, but they wouldn’t let me work, because they don’t know what you’re doing. I’d just come off a tour with Carlos and John and them so I was doing something, but people would get stagnated, and so all the time they didn’t get that.[lxxviii]

Diedre Murray recalls speaking to Duke Ellington before playing at Howard University in Young’s group:

He asked, “Where are you going?” And I said, “I’m doing a gig at Howard University with Larry Young.” He said, “Lawrence, Lawrence of Newark, Lawrence is wonderful,” and he went on and on about Larry Young.

Yet while Ellington may have known him, Young’s new groups failed to reach new audiences, while older audiences weaned on his work in soul jazz or on Unity couldn’t connect to the music’s increasing experimentation. As a “sideman” to better known white fusion artists, audiences would hear but not acknowledge Young, while on the circuit, his sonic experimentation meant that he was sometimes unable to get gigs even in Newark. In part as a result of such encounters, and at the encouragement of his manager, Terry Phillips, Young’s music increasingly moved in a more commercial direction. The final chapter in his recorded legacy was about to unfold.

 

“The now is just smoke”

Young formed the band Fuel in 1975. Emerging from jam sessions involving Young and guitarist Sandy (Santiago) Torano of American funk group Niteflyte, Torano and Young wrote the music for the band’s debut album, Larry Young’s Fuel (1975) in an office in New York. As Young put it, they recorded the album, “with no playing time at all: the band was formed in the studio to do the album; the band rehearsal for the album was in the studio [...] most of the things were done in one take, and a few overdubs that I did.”[lxxix] Rather than the simpler, spontaneous riffs and collective improvisation of Love Cry Want and Lawrence of Newark, Larry Young’s Fuel is dominated by Young’s compositions, which recall at times the self-consciously complex, prog-oriented sound of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever or Frank Zappa’s jazz-oriented work, with Young heard primarily on Mini Moog, Portable Moog Organ, and Freeman String Symphonizers rather than organ. On the record’s most effective tracks, Laura “Tequila” Logan’s erotically-charged vocals recall those of Betty Davis, rising from growl to whistle frequency and veering between song and speech.[lxxx] “Turn Off the Lights” had an afterlife as a popular hip-hop sample, by, among others, Slum Village, Madlib, and Salt-N-Pepa. Album closer “New York Electric Street Music,” meanwhile, is the only recording to feature Young’s own vocals – a sarcastic, proto-rape ode to New York, combining positivity and manic sarcasm, with Young delivering lines like: “Know what I love most about New York? The police and the mafia ...” In July 1975, the group played on an organ bill at the downsized Newport in New York Festival, held at Carnegie Hall amid declining audiences for jazz, their thirty-minute set broadcast on Voice of America.[lxxxi] Providing more intense variants on compositions from the first album, the band are driven by Rob Gottfried’s pounding drums, Torano’s fuzzed, rhythm guitar drive, and Young’s chattering organ, to which he returns as principal instrument. “Fuel for the Fire” is reinvented at high tempo, and Young’s Hammond solo on “I Ching” creates a shimmering force; the band also debut the brief, catchy “The Message is Clear,” an otherwise-unrecorded piece with Tequila’s vocals hinting at hit potential. Most notable, however, is Young’s five-minute solo feature, recalling his spots with Lifetime: as Alexander Hawkins notes, it’s a “virtual compendium of extended techniques on the instrument”, yet it coheres as a musical performance, a wall of sound, mood and texture at once earthy and earth-shaking.

The band’s second album, Spaceball, presented a reconfigured line-up, including saxophonist Al Lockett, guitarists Larry Coryell and Ray Gomez, with arrangements and additional keyboards by Julius Brockrington, who’d recorded for Perception Records backing poet Wanda Robinson and whose music Dean Rudland describes as “typical organ combo [but] organ funk and R&B, rather than jazz.”[lxxxii] The music is loud, enthusiastic, and groove-driven: corny and quirky voices speak sing, and chatter, in a kind of staged approximation of the joyous abandon of evolvingly-popular genres such as disco. Emerging from the working class Black centres where Young’s music, from soul jazz to the new jazz, had its roots in an earlier generation, disco – a predominantly Black, queer form – was on the verge of crossing to the mainstream and appropriation by white, straight audiences, thanks to John Travolta and the Bee Gees.[lxxxiii] Fuel’s music perhaps owes more, however, to the experimentally-tinged funk of Parliament and Funkadelic, adding vocal choruses, acapella vocals, and orgasmic moans, to the multiple keyboard and tricky, prog-like melodies from the first album. On tracks with alternately erotic and space-age titles like “Moonwalk,” “Sticky Wicket,” “Startripper,” and “Flytime,” Young’s keyboards sketch out textures over fat basslines and occasional vocal interjections: while the thematic material of “Message from Mars” repeats near-constantly over its ten-minute span.

In 1973, Hancock’s Headhunters had broken through to Black audiences attuned to Sly Stone and James Brown, combining funk rhythms with extensive use of electronic keyboards. Hancock claimed:

I’m able to play ‘the plain funky truth’, which I really wasn’t able to do before ... Sure, I’m getting a bigger white audience. But I’m also getting a big black audience, which I never had; the people I played to before were 80 to 90% white. I’ve finally been able to come out with some music the general black public can relate to.[lxxxiv]

Such statements likewise bespeak Young’s often-expressed desire, reach a popular audience, balancing roots and the street with the avant-garde and the (Afro-)futuristic, the spiritual and the space-age; to be able to make a living and earn critical and commercial rewards for the music to which he’d dedicated his entire life. But Fuel’s albums remained unsuccessful, and Spaceball was Young’s final release on Arista. A third Fuel album, The Magician (1977), was released on the Germany-only Accanta label: long out-of-print, it remains unheard by virtually everyone I’ve spoken to about Young.

Asked for his definition of jazz in 1977, Young evinced a utopian, pan-generic view: “Jazz is a key to cosmic consciousness and universal order – and includes all form of music – soul, pop, country, rock, etc.”[lxxxv] Yet he was ultimately caught between the ageing audience on the steadily-declining organ circuit, less attuned to his work in free and fusion, and the younger audiences, white and Black, who he remained unable to reach. Paradoxically, in his final years, sideman gigs in old-fashioned soul and mainstream jazz contexts yielded more money and regular work than the contemporary sounds of Fuel.

According to his close friend, saxophonist Leo Johnson, Young found it difficult to find gigs even in his hometown. “People in Newark wanted to hear that ‘Let’s Get Back to the Chicken Shack’ stuff: that wasn’t Larry’s bag.”[lxxxvi] As Michael Cuscuna notes, when Young did get gigs, they often failed to match up to his own dreams for the music and the respect his reputation should have demanded. “Larry’s attitude was, ‘Why am I here doing this when I was on top of so many important things in music?’” In 1977, Young worked with guitarist Jimmy Ponder at New York’s Boomers, played with drummer Freddie Waits at Rutgers University, and led a trio with longstanding Newark friend Buddy Terry and drummer Joe Chambers.[lxxxvii]

His final recorded appearance was a duo record with Chambers, recorded in November 1977 and released after his death as Double Exposure. With Chambers principally playing piano, Young’s organ doubles his lines like a shimmering halo or a simmering shadow – an effect neatly captured by the titular photographic analogy. Young’s own composition “The Ogre” appears to echo Manuel de Falla’s “Fire Dance,” harking back to “Plaza del Toros” from Into Somethin’ or the classical inflections of “Zoltan” from Unity. And, though his organ is low down in the mix, “Mind Rain” yielded bittersweet posthumous fame among the hip-hop generation, Chambers’ piano line forming the base for one of the best-known of all hip-hop samples on Nas’s 1993 “New York State of Mind.” But it’s on the final two tracks, where Chambers moves to drums, that Young’s playing once again stands out. Though lacking the improvisational openness of his earlier duos with Elvin Jones and Eddie Gladden, on generally through-composed reinventions of Fuel’s “Message from Mars” and a variant on “Mind Rain,” the sound of Young’s organ in conjunction with Chambers’ drums gestures towards the work of Amina Claudine Myers and Pheeroan Ak Laff the following year – another chapter in the long history of the jazz organ to which Young had contributed so much.

When the album appeared the following year, it was dedicated to Young’s memory: he had passed in East Orange Hospital at the age of just 37. In the absence of further information, the manner of Young’s passing seems unavoidably to recall the long history of deaths that have dogged great Black Music, too often deriving from prejudices and misunderstandings of jazz musicians as addicts and social deviants: Bessie Smith dying by the roadside; Eric Dolphy dying of insulin shock when presumed to be in drug withdrawal; Mongezi Feza dying from untreated pneumonia in a London hospital; Elmo Hope in a hospital where, according to Bertha Hope, doctors failure to take into account his methadone treatment, put added strain on his heart that contributed to his death.[lxxxviii] While other alternatives have been suggested – drugs, mugging, even murder – a case of medical malpractice is perhaps the natural assumption. As Amiri Baraka wrote in 1979: “Larry Young [...] died last year of pneumonia, which has supposedly been conquered in most modern industrial countries – but Newark is in the Third World.”[lxxxix] Like so many other creative Black musicians who fell through generic, commercial and critical cracks, Young might be understood as a victim of the society in which he lived, and whose legacies of racial violence, exclusion, and artistic appropriation persist to this day. Yet his music remains pulsating with life and light, fighting out against its denial. “The now is just smoke – to play is to cope,” Young rapped to Howard Mandel in 1975. And, as John McLaughlin puts it: “Larry lived a musically creative life. His life wasn’t tragic, it just ended tragically.”[xc] From Newark to New York to Paris, from the chitlin circuit to the capitals of Europe, from The Stable to Slugs’, Zoltán Kodály to Jimi Hendrix, the variously diasporic, nomadic and cross-fertilising elements of Young’s music suggest culture itself as an experiment, perpetually in motion, at once sacred and secular, exploring modes of “being together” and “unity,” imagining heaven on earth. Young’s widow, Althea comments: “He believed sound was like light and that it travelled out into space forever. He was hoping to communicate with whoever else might be out there.”[xci] Perhaps now we can finally hear him afresh.

 

Thanks are due to Clifford Allen, Todd Barkan, Allen Chase, Graham Connah, Pierre Crépon, Michael Cuscuna, Mike “Bags” Davis, Guy Sterling, and Bertrand Uberall for sharing insights, contacts, and research material; to Beth Zak-Cohen at the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library; to Howard Mandel for sharing the transcript of an unpublished interview with Larry Young conducted in Chicago, c.1975; and especially to Diedre Murray for sharing her recollections of working with Young via Zoom in May 2021.

 

 


[i] Larry Young was frequently known by his Islamic name, Khalid Yasin Abdul Aziz, and is credited under this name on his recordings with the Tony Williams Lifetime. Given that the majority of his recordings credit him as “Larry Young”, the name under which he is best known, I have referred to him by this name throughout. Enquiries have yielded no details as to Young’s new band or of the club with which they were to open, though trumpeter Mike ‘Bags’ Davis recalls that, in 1977, he, saxophonist (and later recording engineer) Jim Clouse, and trombonist Dave Glenn – veterans of the One O’Clock Lab Band at University of North Texas College of Music (Denton, TX) – rehearsed three new pieces with Young on organ (sans rhythm section) in Harlem, “one straight ahead modal thing, one ballad and one rock fusion,” which Young intimated he was going to use in some fashion.

[ii] See John Koenig, ‘The Remarakble Olga Von Till’, in liner notes, Larry Young in Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance Records, 2016) [Henceforth ORTF], 14-15. See also Claire Adas’ reminiscence of Von Till, ‘Fennel and Walnut Croquettes’, Out of the Ordinary, January 2013. Online <https://outoftheordinaryfood.com/2013/01/20/fennel-walnut-croquettes/>

[iii] Lewis K. McMillan, Jr., ‘Larry Young: A Sound Apart’, Jazz Forum, No.25, 1973: 43-49-50 (44).

[iv] Quoted in A.B. Spellman, liner notes to Larry Young, Of Love and Peace (Blue Note, 1966).

[v] Amiri and Amini Baraka, ‘Woody Shaw/Woody Three’ in The Music: Reflections on Jazz and Blues (New York: William Morrow, 1987), 199-200 (originally printed as liner notes to Woody Shaw, Woody III (Columbia, 1979)); Chuck Berg, ‘Woody Shaw: Trumpet In Bloom’, Downbeat, August, 1978 (Available online at <https://web.archive.org/web/20080115100530/https://www.shout.net/~jmh/articles/woody4.html>).

[vi] Darren Heinrich, The Afrological Soul of Jazz Organ (Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, Sidney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, 2017), 8; Baraka, The Music, 270.

[vii] William Hooker, interviewed by Mitch Goldman, Deep Focus: Larry Young, WKCR, 17th February 2014.  Available online (in 3 parts): <https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/deep-focus/20140217-william-hooker-on-erCYSEDNUPG/>

[viii] Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Blues People: Negro Music in White America (London: Harper Perennial, 1999 (1963)), 217-18; David Rosenthal,  Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music, 1955-1965 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 27. Baraka’s often-cited criticism of hard bop does not mention the organ, but his brief discussions of the instrument –whose neglect in jazz college courses he attributes to the music’s primary origin by Black performers and in Black communities – are quoted in Radam Schwartz’s dissertation ‘Organ Jazz’, one of the few studies to consider the history of jazz organ at length. (Radam Schwartz, Organ Jazz (Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, Rutgers, Graduate School – Newark, The State University of New Jersey, 2012). For a rare direct link between the organ combos and the New Music, see the organ recordings with Dave Burrell on Archie Shepp’s Kwanza (Impulse, 1974, recorded 1967).

[ix] Preceding quotations from Lerone Bennett, ‘The Soul of Soul’, Ebony, December 1961: 114.

[x] David Henderson, ’Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky. Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (New York: Atria Books 2008 (1978)), 75.

[xi] Leonard Navarez, ‘on the stroll: a book review of “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Preston Lauterbach’, Musical Urbanism, December 2011. Online <https://pages.vassar.edu/musicalurbanism/2011/12/10/on-the-stroll-a-book-review-of-the-chitlin-circuit-and-the-road-to-rock-n-roll-by-preston-lauterbach/>

[xii] Henderson, 75-6.

[xiii] Rosenthal, 108.

[xiv] Jimmie Smith went on to play with numerous mainstream and blues musicians, including Kenny Burrell, Erroll Garner and Jimmy McGriff, moving to California in 1975. Of Sicilian origins, Holiday (born Joseph Befumo) recorded five sessions for Prestige with members of Machito’s ensemble, the Afro-Cubans, later reissued on the CD Mambo Jazz (Original Jazz Classics, 1991).

[xv] Quoted in Dale Wright, liner notes to Larry Young, Testifying (Prestige/New Jazz, 1960).

[xvi] Richard Brent Turner, Soundtrack to a Movement: African American Islam, Jazz, and Black Internationalism (New York: NYU Press, 2021), 159.

[xvii] For Jones’ work on the circuit, see Schwartz, 24.

[xviii] For a harmonic analysis of ‘Ritha’, see ‘Ritha – Larry Young, Jr.’, Jazz Lead Sheets, Online <https://jazzleadsheets.com/ritha.html>.

[xix] Howard Mandel, Interview with Larry Young, Chicago, c.1975. (Unpublished, courtesy of Howard Mandel)

[xx] Dolphy’s group with Davis, trumpeter Donald Byrd, pianist Jack Diéval, bassist Jacques Hess, drummer Franco Manzecchi and conga player Jacky Bambou (a.k.a.The Champs Elysées All Stars) were recorded at Le Chat Qui Pêche on June 11 1964, for radio station France Musique. The recordings were first released as Naima (Jazzway, 1987) and then as Unrealized Tapes (West Wind, 1988) and Last Recordings (DIW, 1988); they are most recently available as Paris’ 64 from Hi Hat (2018). On the earlier group, see Larry Young III, ‘Larry Young: The Duke of Newark’, ORTF, 8.  

[xxi] ‘INA’s Pascal Rozat reflects on Jack Diéval, Musique Aux Champs-Elysées and L’Académie du Jazz’, ORTF, 20.

[xxii] Mandel; Berg.

[xxiii] Green’s Iron City, released on Cobblestone 1972 with a 1967 recording date, credits Big John Patton as organist, but anecdotal evidence from both Patton and drummer Dixon and producer Travis Klein suggests that it was, in fact, recorded by Green, Young and Ben Dixon in Pittsburgh in spring 1965. Notably, Green and the organist play variants on Coltrane’s recent ‘A Love Supreme’ during a version of the spiritual ‘Let My People Go’. See the discussion at the Steve Hoffman Music Forums and Organissimo: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/grant-green-iron-city.279438/>; and <http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/28902-grant-green-iron-city/>.

[xxiv] Quoted in László Eösze, Zoltán Kodály: His Life and Work (London: Collet’s, 1962), 150.

[xxv] CLR James, Grace Lee Boggs and Cornelius Castadioris noted that, during the revolution of 1956, the Workers Councils considered electing Kodály president because of his international reputation. (Facing Reality (Detroit, MI: Bewick Editions, 1974 (1958), 12)

[xxvi] ‘Nathan Davis speaks with Michael Cuscuna about Jazz in Paris in the 1960s, the Nathan Davis Quartet and Larry Young’, ORTF, 30.

[xxvii] Young mentions playing with Taylor in McMillan, 50. Young’s work with Wright is mentioned in Lewis Porter, ‘Frank Wright’, Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Michael Cuscuna recalls Young’s trio with Lancaster and Eric Kamau Gravatt touring Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., recalling the music the group played as “essentially free bop – nothing too out and nothing too corny to win an audience” (Personal Correspondence, May 2021). Jazz and Pop in 1968 reports the group playing for a week apiece at Philadelphia’s Birdland, Washington’s DC’s Bohemian Caverns and New York’s Slugs’. Byard Lancaster’s performance space, shared with pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Bobby Kapp, fellow alumni of the Berklee School of Music, is mentioned in Michael Heller, Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2017), 33. On Slugs’, see further Willard Jenkins, ‘Slugs in the Wild Wild East’, Open Sky Jazz, November 2014, online <https://www.openskyjazz.com/2014/11/slugs-in-the-wild-wild-east/> and Tom Colello, ‘Slug’s Last Stand – A Memoir’, Online <http://tomcolello.com/slugs_last_stand.pdf>.

[xxviii] Charles Simic, ‘Sundays at Slugs’, New York Review of Books, July 2015. Online <https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2015/07/29/sundays-at-slugs-ornette-coleman/>

[xxix] Listed in the New Yorker, 2 December 1968. George Lewis also reports that, in 1971 Young took part as the sole organist in a festival of “young and more avant-garde oriented players” held by the New York Musicians’ Association as a counter to the Newport Jazz Festival, along with Lancaster, Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, Cal Massey, Ted Daniel, Wilbur Ware, and David Izenzon. (George Lewis, A Power Stronger than Itself, 328; citing “New York Musicians Stage own Fetsival”, Downbeat, Setp 1972: 9)

[xxx] Guy Sterling, ‘Larry Young’s Tragic Genius’, Newark Star-Ledger, Sunday, March 30, 2003. Available online at <https://web.archive.org/web/20190429044124/https://harmonicsdb.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/larry-young/> (Althea Young quotation); Mandel (Larry Young quotation). Lewis Porter reports that Young sat in on piano, along with Sonny Johnson on bass, when John Coltrane’s group played at Newark’s Front Room around early October 1966. (Lewis Porter, Coltrane: His life and Music (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 376.

[xxxi] A.B. Spellman, liner notes, Larry Young, Of Love and Peace (Blue Note, 1966). Wilson Moorman worked in the North Carolina and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, touring with Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye and performing in Max Roach’s M’Boom. See ‘Requiem’, Allegro, Volume 113, No. 11, December, 2013 <https://www.local802afm.org/allegro/articles/requiem-144/>. Moorman’s only other recorded appearances are as part of a percussion ensemble featuring Warren Smith for a piece by Talib Rasul Hakim on the third volume of Folkways’ New American Music series; on tympani on Jay Hoggard’s Mystic Winds, Tropic Breezes (1982); and on marimba on Jason [Kao] Hwang’s Unfolding Stone (1990).

[xxxii] As Lewis Porter suggests, a separate melody from Gould’s Symphonette is likely to have formed the basis for Coltrane’s ‘Impressions’. ‘Deep Dive with Lewis Porter: The Inspiration(s) Behind John Coltrane’s ‘Impressions’’, WBGO, September 21, 2017. Online <https://www.wbgo.org/music/2017-09-21/deep-dive-with-lewis-porter-the-inspirations-behind-john-coltranes-impressions>

[xxxiii] On splitting in the ‘Daybreak’ sÅ«rah, see Afnan H. Fatana, ‘Translation and the Qur’an’, in Oliver Leaman (ed.), The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 660-1.

[xxxiv] Alain Fernier, ‘Portrait de Larry Y’, Jazz Magazine, #178 (1970): 18-19. [French language; my translation]

[xxxv] Baraka, The Music, 200.

[xxxvi] Berg; Horace Silver, Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2006), 113-14.

[xxxvii] See Washington, Natural Essence (Blue Note, 1968), Roots (Perception, 1973) and Do Right (Perception, 1974); Gale Ghetto Music (Blue Note, 1968), Black Rhythm Happening (Blue Note, 1969).

[xxxviii] Larry Kart, ‘ “The Death of Jazz?” Revisited’ (1986), in Jazz in Search of Itself (Yale University Press, 2008), 261-265 (262). Originally printed in Chicago Tribune, May 4, 1986.

[xxxix] Quoted in Nat Hentoff, liner notes to Larry Young, Heaven on Earth (Blue Note, 1968). Young played a Nation Of Islam ‘Unity Bazaar’ on a bill with Freddie Hubbard and Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers in May that year.

[xl] Thanks to Bertrand Uberall for this observation.

[xli] Charles R. Cross, Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix (New York: Hyperion (Hachette Books), 2005), 255.

[xlii] On Jumma Sultan, see Stuart Broomer, ‘Ezz-Thetics’, Point of Departure, Issue 37 (December 2011), Online <http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD37/PoD37Ezz-thetics.html> and Chris Strachwitz, ‘Sonny Simmons, Barbara Donald, And Juma Sultan Interview’ (March 1969), The Chris Strachwitz Collection, Arhoolie Foundation, Online  <https://arhoolie.org/sonny-simmons-barbara-donald-juma-sultan/>. For Hendrix’s possible jam with Sam Rivers, see Organissimo discussion, 2010 <http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/59205-sam-rivers-and-jimi-hendrix/&page=1>

[xliii] The Hendrix/Young jam was made at the Record Plant, April 14, 1969, and was posthumously released in an edited, 10-minute form as ‘Young/Hendrix’ on Alan Douglas’ Nine to the Universe compilation (Reprise, 1980), and, in unedited, 20-minute form, on the West Coast Seattle Boy (Experience/ legacy) boxset in 2010. The other musicians are likely Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums).

[xliv] Henderson, 304. Henderson refers to the ‘Tinkerville Playhouse’, most likely the Tinker Street cinema in Downtown Woodstock, where Hendrix played with Jumma Sultan’s Aboriginal Music Society – likely including Earl Cross (trumpet), Juma Sultan (bass), Kaboi Ali (drums) Michael Carabello and José Areas (percussion), as well as unidentified saxophonist and flautist – on August 10th, 1969. It seems that the performance with Young described here dates from the same period, just before the Woodstock Festival (August 15th-18th, 1969).

[xlv] In a 1979 interview with Lee Underwood in Downbeat, Williams recalls sitting in with Johnny ‘Hammond’ Smith among others. (Lee Underwood, ‘Tony Williams: Aspiring to a Lifetime of Leadership’, Downbeat 46 (June 21, 1979): 54.

[xlvi] Mandel, Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz (London: Routledge, 2008), 60; John McDermott, liner notes to Lifetime, Turn It Over (Verve, 1997 (reissue)).

[xlvii] Around the time of these sessions, Young also appeared – with McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell, Harvey Brooks, and Herbie Hancock – as a seession musician backing Betty Davis on demo sessions released in 2016 as Columbia Years 1968-69.

[xlviii] Pat Cox, ‘Tony Williams: An Interview Scenario’, Down Beat, May 28, 1970: 14-15, 33. Available online <http://users.cs.cf.ac.uk/Dave.Marshall/mclaughlin/art/scenario.html>; Mandel (Young quotation).

[xlix] Heinrich, 33.

[l] Scott De Veaux, ‘Constructing the Jazz Tradition: Jazz Historiography’, Black American Literature Forum, Autumn, 1991, Vol. 25, No. 3, Literature of Jazz Issue (Autumn, 1991): 525-56 (548).

[li] Hooker. Though existing recordings are generally poor-quality bootlegs, a 30-minute radio broadcast (likely on WKCR) provides some indication of the power of the initial trio live. Released bootleg as Live in New York 1969, the recording supplements live tracks with studio performance recorded for the broadcast. For likely recording information, see <http://www.bigozine2.com/archive/ARrarities08/ARtwilnyc.html>.

[lii] Kevin Fellesz, ‘Emergency! Race and Genre in Tony Williams’s Lifetime’, Jazz Perspectives (2008), 2:1, 1-27. Reprinted in Fellesz, Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk and the Creation of Fusion (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011), 2.

[liii] See, for example, Leonard Feather, The Pleasures of Jazz: Leading Performers on Their Lives, Their Music, Their Contemporaries (New York: Horizon Press, 1976), 29.

[liv] Heinemann/Morgenstern, Downbeat, 45.

[lv] Cox.

[lvi] Rebee Garfalo, ‘Crossing Over: From Black Rhythm & Blues to White Rock ‘n’ Roll’, in Michael Kelley (ed.) Rhythm and Business: The Political Economy of Black Music (New York: Akashic Books, 2002), 112-137.

[lvii] Steven Pond, Headhunters: The Making of Jazz’s First Platinum Album (Ann Arbor: Univ. Michigan Press, 2005), 15,

[lviii] Cox.

[lix] Posting at Organissimo, 2015. <http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/77002-larry-young-in-paris/&page=4>

[lx] ‘John McLaughlin Remembers Larry Young’; ‘Jack Bruce on Larry Young’, ORTF, 38-39.

[lxi] Booth is credited as ‘Juni’ on records at the time; Juini is the current spelling of his name (as of May 2021)..

[lxii] Baraka, The Music, 308.

[lxiii] Information about LoveCry Want is largely drawn from Dave Segal, ‘An Interview with Joe Gallivan, the Innovative Jazz Drummer Praised by Stravinsky and Ignored by Nearly Everyone’, The Stranger: Seattle’s Weekly Alternative Newspaper, May 26, 2016. Online <http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/05/26/24124551/an-interview-with-joe-gallivan-the-jazz-drummer-praised-by-stravinsky-and-ignored-by-nearly-everyone-else>. While still with Lifetime, Young played in a trio with Billy Brooks and alto player Leo Wright in Berlin, as reported by Denis Constant (Denis Constant, Khalid Yasin/Larry Young (Berlin, Jazz Gallerie, 18 and 19 Nov. [1971]), Jazz Magazine, #197 (1972): 45); touring the Washington Area, he replaced Hilton Felton in a trio with George Benson and drummer Gary Jenkins; William Hooker also recalls a duo with Eddie Gladden at Manhattan’s Spring Street Natural, which opened in 1973. These, however, seem to have been ad-hoc or brief touring groups.

[lxiv] This story is recounted in the album’s uncredited liner notes, possibly by Gallivan.

[lxv] Mandel.

[lxvi] George Kanzler, email to Guy Sterling, 3/3/2003. Print-out, Guy Sterling Papers, Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library. Many thanks to Beth Zak-Cohen for scanning material from the archive to aid this research.

[lxvii] Sterling.

[lxviii] ‘Moslem Musicians: Mohammedan Religion Has Great Appeal for Many Talented Progressive Jazz Men,’ Ebony, April 1953: 107-110.

[lxix] New York Magazine, November 5, 1973: 61, Coda, Vol 11, 1973: 27. The same year, Jazzforum listed Young (on piano) as performing with “the ‘Lawrence of Newark Concert Group’ for Boston’s Berklee College of Music students as part of the institution’s Community Service Program” (Issue 24: 27). Owner Todd Barkan recalls a Young gig at Keystone Korner, San Francisco, in 1974, possibly with James Blood Ulmer and Art Gore. (Personal Correspondance, May 2021). New York Magazine for December 1974 lists a further gig with a sextet at New York nightclub – and early birthplace of US punk – Max’s Kansas City.

[lxx] Murray cannot recall the exact date, but suggests it was around 1972 or 1973.

[lxxi] Author’s interview with Diedre Murray, Zoom, May 2021

[lxxii] Brody.

[lxxiii] Mandel.

[lxxiv] The percussionists are Young (on bongos); Stacey Edwards, who’d appeared on Contrasts; drummer Art Gore, who’d worked with George Benson and Lonnie Liston Smith; Armen Halburian, who’d played with Woody Shaw; Howard King, drummer for Gary Bartz’s Ntu Troop; I’ve as yet found little to no additional information on James Flores, Abdul Shahid, Farouk Abdoul Hakim, Poppy LaBoy, and Umar Abdul Muizz.

[lxxv] Posting at Organissimo, 2015. <http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/77002-larry-young-in-paris/&page=4>

[lxxvi] Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (London: Quartet, 1998), 00[-005], 01[001-002).

[lxxvii] Thanks to Allen Chase for information on the Phoenix gig. For a full listing of shows, see the Historical Database for Santana Fans (Karim Brichi, Herman Lansink Rotgerink and Dick Dickon), Online < https://santanamigos.pagesperso-orange.fr/1973.htm#4> Broadcast-quality recordings exists of the shows from the Chicago International Theatre (9/1/73), the Berkeley Community Theatre (5/9/73), the former released as a bootleg entitled Brothers of the Spirit: A Live Supreme. Len Lyons, ‘$35,000 question: is that one band or two?’, September 14-20, 1973 Berkeley Barb: 11.

[lxxviii] Mandel.

[lxxix] Mandel. Around this time, Young and Torano had both worked in British saxophonist Clive Stevens’ ‘Atmospheres’ ensemble.

[lxxx] Vocalist and guitarist on Lifetime’s The Old Bum’s Rush (1973), Tequila also featured alongside Allan Holdsworth in the iteration of the band known as ‘Wildlife’ whose 1974 sessions went unreleased. Credited alternately as ‘Linda’ and ‘Laura’ Logan, she appears to have dropped out of the music scene following her tenure in Fuel. See ‘Tequila is Missing’, unspeakable (as heck), January 2017, online <https://unspeakableasheck.blogspot.com/2017/01/tequila-is-missing.html>.

[lxxxi] John Rockwell, ‘Organists Occupy Carnegie's Spotlight’, New York Times, July 2, 1975. Available online <https://www.nytimes.com/1975/07/02/archives/organists-occupy-carnegies-spotlight.html>

[lxxxii] Dean Rudland, Liner Notes to The Best of Perception & Today Records compiled by DJ Spinna and BBE Soundsystem (BBE Records, 2012). Available online <https://www.bbemusic.com/downloads/best-of-perception-today-records-compiled-by-dj-spinna-and-bbe-soundsystem-2/>

[lxxxiii] On this process, see Tim Lawrence, Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979 (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003), 380-1.

[lxxxiv] Quoted in Pond, 33.

[lxxxv] Larry Young / Khalid Yasin, [Short statement on jazz], Jazz Forum, 12, 1977: 37.

[lxxxvi] Quoted in Sterling.

[lxxxvii] Schwartz, Cuscuna, Downbeat, ORTF. Young also makes a brief appearance on drummer Lenny White’s sci-fi themed Venusian Summer (1975), delivering a ferocious, barking solo in the midst of slick grooves (‘Mating drive’). Curiously enough, the record also features Hammond pioneer Jimmy Smith on opener ‘Chicken Fried Steak’.

[lxxxviii] Robin D.G. Kelley, Thelonious Monk: The life and Times of an American Original (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009), 288

[lxxxix] Baraka, The Music, 1987, 199.

[xc] Quoted in Sterling.

[xci] Ibid.

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