Jazz fans be warned: Larry Young's Mother Ship
has arrived. Recorded in 1969, this wonderfully funky craft enjoys its first CD release on Blue Note. Manning the controls are Young on organ, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Herbert Morgan on tenor sax, and Eddie Gladden on drums.
Though Herbert Morgan and Gladden never became instantly identifiable jazz figures, their performances here are worthy of everyone's attention. The entire band's output on the album hovers between post bop and the avant-garde, with Gladden's wonderfully dynamic drumming often navigating the knotty paths of the soloists. The title track starts the album with the immediate drops and loops of a roller coaster. The band seems hell bent on speed and rhythm, with Young's organ work loosening the rails, often tempting the edge of free jazz.
On "Street Scene," a smooth hustler's strut sets the pace. Lee Morgan, superbly adaptable outside the boundaries of hard-bop, begins the solos with his trumpet pivoting an urban sway that leads to Herbert Morgan's equally cool swing. As heard throughout the album, Young propels this song with abandon, often shedding structure and pace for pure emotion, though always with taste. Under the tent of an un-chartered cosmic circus, "Visions" continues the entertainment on Mother Ship, with all members twisting about Gladden's beats into a high flying jazz act.
The most daring stunt, though, is the nearly thirteen minute adventure of "Trip Merchant." Working with scant instructions, an interesting continuum is formed, as each soloist is allowed time and space to explore their mood. The album closes with the surprisingly straight-ahead approach of the Latin-tinged tune "Love Drops."
Upon arrival, there is no doubt; Mother Ship is a wild, free flowing ride of sonic marvel. This is one the best reissues of the year. Paired with amazingly clear sound from 24-bit remastering, this groovy craft awaits your passage. Dig it.
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This review first appeared in All About Jazz: Los Angeles .