Reference: FSRCD 871_2
Bar code: 8427328608718
Larry Young (1940-1979) started off in the early 60s as a soul-jazz organist, and the three albums included on this 2-CD setTestifying, Young Blues, and Street Groove, are his first as a leader.
Recorded in 1960 and 1962 for the New Jazz/Prestige label, they document a period when the 20 year old organist was starting to establish a name for himself in the jazz scene. On a set of warmly swinging, thoroughly grooving performances, Young is in an astounding, persuasively blues-tinged mood, while guitarist Thornel Schwartz and drummer Jimmie Smith are the personification of steady and sympathetic support, consistently augmented with the addition of bassist Wendell Marshall in Young Blues. Tenor saxophonist Joe Holiday can be heard on two of the tunes of Testifying, while Bill Leslie sets the right mood for Groove Street.
As a bonus, this set includes five tracks from Forrest Fire, another 1960 record date with Young and his trio act as backing for the solid blowing of the full-bodied tenor of Jimmy Forrest. These sessions, relaxed and unpretentious, are the epitome of swing-rooted, soulful jazz.
"Before he became known as The John Coltrane of the B3 Larry Young was a groovemeister in the vein of Jimmy Smith. This 2-CD set from Fresh Sound Records have him with his working trio of Thornel Schwartz/g, Jimmie smith/dr as well as guests Wendell Marshall/b and Jimmy Forrest/ts in a toe tappers heaven from 1960-62.
Young and company preach like a Baptist minister on Testifying, bop like Diz on Wee Dot and sing like Pagliacci on Flamingo with Schwartz showing some sleek moves on Exercise for Chihuahuas. With Marshalls bass adding some oomph the team does some snappy work on Horace Silvers Nicas Dream and sound wonderfully mysterious on African Blues and Minor Dream. Bill Leslie adds his tenor sax and greases up on Getting Into It and Sweet Lorraine and Jimmy Forrest rolls in like the fog on Bags Groove and Dexter Deck. How can you not believe in an all wise God when the sound of the tenor sax and B3 can only be described as heaven sent? Goes down like Texas BBQ Brisket at Franklins."
George W. Harris (October 19, 2015)
"On Testifying and When I Grow Too Old To Dream you can already hear Young squeezing together blues tonalities and exploring with the strange, whole-step intervals that became part of his fully mature language on the classic 1965 Unity and with Tony Williams' Lifetime.
These earlier sessions aren't just workmanlike organ trio jazz. Though Groove Street seems like a tactical withdrawal into commercial orthodoxy, the superb early sets are a good illustration of Young's attempt to replace the prevailing Jimmy Smith style with something of John Coltrane's new harmonic approach. It's not always successful but despite the youth of the group, with Schwartz the hardened veteran at 30 and an effective soloist, there's nothing gimmicky or overtly experimental. The drummer, just off a gig with B. B. King, is solid and assertive. Young himself played it the way he heard it, and even his most abstract tone clusters and odd switches between upper and lower manuals are functional and determined by musical need.
The saxophones generally contribute to a more conservative sound, but they're only sparingly deployed on the first CD. On Groove Street and the bonus Forrest Fire, which is the saxophonist's date, they're inevitably more prominent. The only moan is the totally unnecessary spill of a single track from Young Blues onto the second disc, leaving it so oversubscribed that one track (When Your Lover Has Gone) has had to be dropped from Forrest Fire. That's not a major loss in itself, but it slightly spoils the ending of Young Blues. It's not clear why Young chose to work with a bass player on that album but Marshall was a superb choice and allows Young to range more freely in his upper registers."
Brian Morton -Jazz Journal (September, 2015)
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