Rifftides does not make it a practice to observe birthdays of jazz artists. That could be a full-time job. Once in a while we make an exception. This is one. Larry Young was born on October 7, 1940. He took the organ beyond Jimmy Smith’s earthy approach and Don Patterson’s piano-style into the use of modes. Young sometimes employed the instrument’s capacity for overtones to produce otherworldly effects. With Tony Williams Lifetime, Miles Davis on Bitches Brew and Jimi Hendrix on Nine to the Universe, Young was an experimenter with fusion. In this piece from Unity, an album that sells well 46 years after it was made, Young is experimental only in negotiating the challenging chords of Woody Shaw’s “The Moontrane.” Shaw is on trumpet, Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, Elvin Jones on drums.
Larry Young died on March 3, 1978 of untreated pneumonia. I wish that this remarkable musician had taken better care of himself.