LARRY YOUNG — Mothership

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LARRY YOUNG - Mothership cover
4.04 | 7 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1980

Filed under Post Bop


A1 Mother Ship 7:35
A2 Street Scene 6:53
A3 Visions 6:41
B1 Trip Merchant 12:51
B2 Love Drops 7:05


Larry Young : organ
Lee Morgan : trumpet
Herbert Mogan : tenor saxophone
Eddie Gladden : drums

About this release

Blue Note ‎– LT-1038 (US)

Recorded on February 7, 1969 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

The material on this album is released here for the first time.

Thanks to Matt for the addition and snobb, EZ Money for the updates


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Steve Wyzard

"One thing about Larry Young is that he really is an organist. He knows that instrument, and furthermore, unlike some organ players in jazz, Larry never gets in your way. On the contrary, he keeps building in and around what you are doing while always listening so that his comping is always a great help." Mother Ship is a miraculous album, and due to its posthumous release has been continually underrated and underplayed. The above quote, from Grant Green (who does not play on Mother Ship) comes from this album's liner notes, which also take pains to portray Young as a Coltrane acolyte. That might be overselling the issue just a bit, but when you hear this album, you'll understand how the connection has been made.

Of course, the real problem with Mother Ship's reputation is that it will always live in the shadow of Young's Unity album, which the all-powerful consensus has determined is Larry's greatest. It's a real temptation to compare the two albums due to their common instrumentation: organ / trumpet / tenor sax / drums. Yet on Mother Ship, Lee Morgan's trumpet performance is much freer than anything else you've heard him play. Tenorist Herbert Morgan (no relation) and drummer Eddie Gladden are both compatriots of Young's from the Newark, NJ area. While far lesser-known than the legends who performed on Unity, both play up a storm on this album.

While a number of Blue Note's "LT-series" records are almost compilations of "odds and ends" from various sessions, Mother Ship is a full 41-minute album recorded in one day in 1969. The ground-breaking "Mother Ship", the bluesy riffing of "Street Scene", the 3-part long lines of "Visions", the epic (12:51) "Trip Merchant", and the sassy samba of "Love Drops" were all composed by Larry Young. If there's one extremely slight letdown to this album, it's the track sequencing. Whoever decided to follow up the boundary-pushing powerful chords and explosions of sound in "Trip Merchant" with the playful "Love Drops" was just being disrespectful. Wait until you hear Larry's and Lee's lengthy, mind-blowing solos on this track. Elsewhere Herbert Morgan may occasionally remind you of the one-and-only Wayne Shorter.

After Mother Ship, Young would leave Blue Note and go on to the Tony Williams Lifetime, the career move for which he's best-known today. Sadly, neither he nor Lee Morgan would live to see this album's release in 1980. While it's far less easy to find a copy of Mother Ship these days, I strongly urge anyone with an interest in Larry Young to pick this album up. The performances and compositions cry out for acclaim and deserve to be just as well-known as those on Unity.
Recorded in 1969, 'Mother Ship' would be Larry Young's last 'jazz' record, and his last recording for the Blue Note label. The CD re-issue cover of the album shows him in a traditionally dark jazz club wearing a black tie and coat, in a few months he would be wearing a dashiki and playing psychedelic jazz rock with Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix and John McLaughlin. For those interested in Larry's transition from jazzist to fusion rocker, this LP has a lot of music that shows Young clearly in between the two worlds, and obviously moving further away from jazz. A lot of the styles present on here will show up in a slightly harder form on Young's first solo fusion recording, 'Lawrence of Newark', and also on Tony William's original Lifetime recordings. Three of the songs on here are in the semi-free post-bop style that was made popular by the Miles Davis Quintet and Ornette Coleman. Drummer Eddie Gladden displays a lot of similarities to Tony Williams as he stretches the time and provides creative fills that add to the phrasing of the soloists. On these songs Young starts his solos with mysterious passages that swell out of the background and finally builds into furious assaults that recall avant-garde saxophonists such as John Coltrane and Pharoh Sanders.

Two other songs are in a quasi-rock style that has Young providing a steady pulse on the B3 pedals leaving Gladden to do his usual poly-rhythmic drum fills. Larry's solos on these two songs show the cross-influence that was beginning to happen between himself and early British progressive and psychedelic rock bands such as Trinity and the Nice. Although Mother Ship came out after Brian Auger and Keith Emerson were well established, there is no doubt that Young's early recordings had an effect on both of them. Likewise, their use of electronic effects and synthesizers would have an effect on Young as well. Soon after finishing this recording, Young began to make synthesizers a regular part of his keyboard ensemble.

If you have ever wondered what bands like the 60s version of Ornette Coleman's group or The Miles Davis Quintet would sound like with a quasi-psychedelic Hammond B3 player on board, or what the Nice would have sounded like with a jazz drummer, this is the album for you. Larry Young is brilliant throughout this album providing creative organ sounds that may remind some of Sun Ra, Richard Kermode from Santana's 'Caravanserai' album, the young pre-ELP Keith Emerson and sometimes even those quirky 60's exotica records. All of the compositions and musicians on here are excellent!
He only made it to 37 ( Untreated Pneumonia)but he left his mark and will always be remembered as one of the greatest if not the greatest Jazz organ player ever. Larry did not ride a groove although he sure knew how to as shown by his earlier albums prior to becoming a Blue Note man. He took the organ to new heights and showed just what the instrument could do but always there was something there and in this album the feeling throughout is urgency and this motors along pretty much the whole time with that vibe. Do not fear the time is 1969 and Alfred Lion is no longer doing his thing but hey, Francis Wolff is producing proceedings and can't you tell by the cover with another great photo of his..Larry Young shows what a master he has become and with Lee Morgan on Trumpet, Herbert Morgan ( No Relation) on Tenor Saxophone and Eddie Gladden on Drums things are looking promising. I could go on about Lee but Eddie Gladden was a great drummer and he hit the kit hard at times and you sure heard his beat. Later in his career he backed Dexter Gordon and other lumanaries in Jazz..No slouch! The interesting one for me is Herbert Morgan, all I know is he comes from Newark as Larry and Eddie do as well but one thing for sure is he has a wonderful tone on the sax, bold and clear and his solos are just as good as any other top Jazz musician around the traps as evidenced with this recording.He also appears on three other of Larry's recordings with Blue Note

We get under way with the title track Mother Ship and both horn players do the intro and Herbert Morgan takes the first solo with Lee to follow and a quick one from Larry but what is driving this album along is Eddie Gladden on drums at times he is still holding rythmn and yet frenzied at times could be best with his approach. He even give us a solo towards the end of the tune and shows what a master drummer he must be when he had the sense to keep it short. As there is no Bass player Larry is doing rythmn work as in the next composition to follow, Track 2 Street Scene where lee and Herbert swap with the solo order and Eddie is behind it all as well. The absolute standout on this album is track 4 Trip Merchant running at just under thirteen minutes is a little Jazz masterpiece and one groover Larry Young style and he goes all out with one delight of a solo and Eddie Gladden just seems to be pushing the other three musicians along. Lee Morgans turn is what you expect from someone of his class on trumpet and is another great solo. Herbert Morgan holds his own following along. The album finishes off with a straight Jazz composition and is called Love Drops and after the urgency throughout the album is quite a nice finisher and somewhere in there I get a slight kind of Sunny Samba feel to the composition. I have not mentioned the third track Visions but you will not be disappointed.

Mother Ship I consider to be up there with Larry Young's other great Blue Note recording Unity. One thing it is not Rock but then again it is driving and frenzied at times Jazz but no more out there than any of the famous Miles Davis Quintet albums but with Larry's twist on things and three great musicians with two of them still trying to make a name for themselves in Jazz .This album has to be played for the 2nd time in a row today.

Athough recorded in 1969 Larrys last album with Blue Note was not released till 1980. Sat in the can a long time.

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