JazzTimes 10: Classic Organ Jazz Albums

What to hear when you need to get your Hammond on

2. Larry Young: Unity (Blue Note, 1965)

As original as Smith, Newark native Larry Young might have—should have—been as revolutionary too. But Young remains a singular figure in jazz history, a modal organist who adapted his instrument for the New Thing. Unity was his breakthrough in that direction. Flanked by an unbelievable murderer’s row of experimenters (trumpeter Woody Shaw, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, drummer Elvin Jones), Young sacrifices none of the groove associated with the organ (including hard-swinging renditions of “Monk’s Dream” and “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” as if to prove the point). He merely augments it with carefully streamlined changes, soloists who push the music further and further out, and three remarkably progressive Woody Shaw compositions, including the premiere of his most famous, “The Moontrane.”

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.