09 May 2008

Friday Album Cover: Unity

Larry Young

It's back to Blue Note this week for the Friday Album Cover, with Larry Young's seminal 1965 album Unity. Whereas our previous Blue Note covers (A New Perspective and Out to Lunch) utilized photography to give a visual representation of the music on the respective albums, on this cover Reid Miles eschews photographs for simple text and geometric figures. A few years after making this album, Young would team up with Tony Williams and John McLaughlin to form the Tony Williams Lifetime, a major force of the jazz fusion movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. By 1965, Young had not fully developed the driving sound that would characterize his work with Lifetime, but on Unity, he shows off a new conception of jazz organ which was free of the (by that time) clich├ęd groove-oriented sound pioneered by Jimmy Smith. Thus, the figure of the U with spheres rising out of the top is fitting, evoking a overflowing test tube. Young shows his mettle by leading a reknowned group of sidemen, Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, and Elvin Jones, all the while demonstrating new possibilities for the Hammond B3 organ.

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