John Young (p), Herbert Brown, Bill Yancey, Sam Kidd (b), Larry Jackson, Philip Thomas (d)
Reference: FSRCD 734
Bar code: 8427328607346
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Pianist John Young (1922-2008), crisscrossed the country in the '40s with a vastly popular big bandAndy Kirk and His Clouds of Joybefore he became a revered figure on the Chicago jazz scene. His approach was reminiscent of Erroll Garner, but he also looked for inspiration in the work of younger pianists like Ahmad Jamal and Ramsey Lewis, who also launched their careers in this city.
This set presents four of Youngs trio albums from the mid '50s and early '60s for the Argo and Vee-Jay labels. Although Young never attained the fame of other of his contemporaries, in these recordings he showed he was a polished and capable player with a style that made considerable and effective use of blocked chords.
In a career that spanned over six decades, Young regularly played popular clubs either with his own trio, orchestra, or as a sideman, accompanying artists such as Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon, Lurlean Hunter, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Lorez Alexandria and many others. The noted jazz authority Dan Morgenstern in Living with Jazz, called Young one of Chicagos several unsung piano originals.
"In 1950s Chicago, a city packed with quality jazz pianists including Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Junior Mance, Norman Simmons et aI, John Young (1922-2008) found his niche and earned a deserved reputation via his work with Gene Ammons, Ben Webster, Sonny Stitt and King Kolax, having served a valuable apprenticeship with Andy Kirk's band.
He favoured an exuberant style, synthesized from a number of influences, and remained a bulwark of the Chicago scene as both an admired sideman (for singers including Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Lorez Alexandra) and leader of an esteemed, swinging trio. Perhaps he didn't gain greater kudos because he elected to remain in his hometown, but local labels Argo and Vee-Jay recognised his worth by recording the relatively obscure sessions reissued here for the first time on CD.
Fresh Sound is doing a great job of rescuing half-forgotten piano trio music that merits reappraisal and these polished performances by Young and company fall easily into that category. The pianist sets down neatly turned performances, well arranged and executed with a flourish and confidence born of long experience. The dates on CD1 have a freshness and appeal, enhanced by a good and varied choice of repertoire.
The material chosen for the early 1960s sessions on CD2 maintains the standard on (4), but the (3) tracks from Vee-Jay suggest the pianist was pressured into producing a programme of screen themes in a bid for wider commercial acceptance. There was no follow-up and back with Argo (4) it was business as usual - and that meant playing of a high order that put smiles on audience faces.
As Joe Segal, that consistent supporter of Chicagos finest, observed, John Young was a major mainstay of a happy style of piano playing that was fast disappearing. To have these samples re-released in such abundant quantity is indeed cause for celebration."
—Mark Gardner (February, 2013)
More at www.jazzjournal.co.uk
"Releases such as this one from Fresh Sound Records proves my theory that there are certain periods of musical history that there is a surfeit of talented artists that simply get overlooked. The late 50s and early 60s was one of those times, and fortunately, this label brings out music from a guy I never even knew existed, let alone would want to hear more from.
Pianist John Young was a Chicago mainstay in the mid 20th century, declining offers from the likes of Nancy Wilson to tour, preferring the local scene and pleasant obscurity. He did some work with Ella, Sarah and Dexter, but basically kept to himself. These four sessions in a trio format with Herbert Brown-Bill Yancey-Sam Kidd/b and Larry Jackson-Philip Thomas/dr reveal an artist who had touches of certain influences such as Jamal, Garland and Garner, but ended up with a voice all his own.
The first disc includes two sessions (Young John Young & Opus De Funk) with the Brown and Jackson team from 56 and 57. The mix of standards like Star Eyes, jazz standards like Bags Groove and originals like Patsy reveal a tasteful display of melodious charm and in the pocket grooves. This guy adds little bluesy phrases to pieces like Three Penny Opera and does delightful dressings to the theme. The two sessions on the second disc (Themes and Things & A Touch of Pepper) are highlighted by a deeply felt take of Spartacus and ultra Rat Packish Fly Me Too The Moon. The rapport with the supporting guys is exquisite.
Young put out releases until about 1987, and died in 08. Youll want to use this as a starting point for an unfortunately overlooked charmer."
—George W. Harris (February 28, 2013)