Young Testifies


Even though he succumbed to pneumonia at 38, Larry Young's career as an organ player embodied three decades of jazz changes. Young emerged in the late-1950s from the R&B tradition in jazz, and his explorations on the organ of concepts first developed throughout the 1960s by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and others culminated in Young's keyboard seat in Tony Williams' landmark jazz-rock fusion trio Lifetime in the early 1970s. Testifying (Original Jazz Classics, 1992) turns the dial way back to Young's debut as a leader, recorded just before his 20th birthday, with drummer Jimmie Smith and guitarist Thornel Schwartz, a longtime associate of Hammond legend Jimmy Smith.

Young's early music sounds very much of its time, a sticky rolled-up ball of jazz, blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, and soul. "Some Thorny Blues" is Schwartz's showcase for himself, a thick and heavy rhythm through which his blues guitar rolls slow and powerful. Tenor saxophonist Joe Holiday is featured on his own "Exercise For Chihuahuas," where he and Young deeply dig into the sax-organ soul-jazz bag later stitched together by Sonny Stitt with Don Patterson and by other combos too. Young's title track voices the respective ecstasies of religion and funk which merged in many organ players who grew up in the church.

Testifying is Young's only Concord trio set. His other releases -- Young Blues (OJC, 1994) and Groove Street (OJC, 1995) -- both feature Smith and Schwartz; Young Blues adds bassist Wendell Marshall while Groove Street features tenor saxman Bill Leslie.