Larry Young, later Khalid Yasin, was born into his peculiar position as the post-bop era's jazz organist. The Jr. to professional organist Larry Young Sr., Larry was trained by his father in classical and jazz piano from the time he was a toddler. His passion for the organ came when his father opened a nightclub called The Shindig in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Naturally, he had an Hammond organ installed there, and Larry Jr. gravitated to the instrument's distinct qualities. He quickly mastered the difficult Hammond B-3, leading his own jazz combo before he was old enough to play in clubs. He also sang bass for the Operetta Club and local R&B group, the Challengers. By the time he signed to Prestige, he was solely committed to jazz and the Hammond. In 1964, he switched to Blue Note, where his music was heavily influenced by John Coltrane and a shift in his own consciousness. He experimented with drugs, Eastern music, and unique ability to play with resonance and dissonance with the Hammond's modal pedals. At Blue Note, he was given free rein to experiment, but his musical expansion eventually moved beyond jazz as a genre. He began to infuse his music with his earlier influences of R&B and rock 'n' roll, but only to further venture into more experimental realms of musical possibility. After Blue Note decided not to release Mother Ship, Young left the label, converted to Islam, changed his name to Khalid Yasin, and went on to play in some of the most successful experimental jazz-fusion outfits of the 1970s, including Tony Williams' Lifetime Trio (1969-71), Miles Davis' Bitches Brew ensemble (1970), free rock trio, Love Cry Want (1972), even a session with Jimi Hendrix (1969). His sudden death to unknown causes at the age of 37 remains a mystery today, but bears the all too familiar hand of a black ops assassin.
Lawrence of Newark (1973), Contrasts (1967) was recorded with a large ensemble of musicians Larry knew coming up in Newark. Both albums explore a soul-jazz style reminiscent of first-generation B-3 master, Jimmy Smith, and also Eddie Gale's contemporary Blue Note efforts, yet more experimental than both. Contrasts was largely overlooked upon its release and far less successful than Unity (1965) or Of Love and Peace (1966). It's as free a session as the quartet that created Mother Ship (1969), which was so far out that Blue Note sat on it until 1980, effectively ending their relationship with Young. Both Contrasts and Mother Ship feature saxophonist Herbert Morgan and drummer Eddie Gladden. Lee Morgan completes the quartet on Mother Ship, one of his final Blue Note recordings before being murdered on stage by his ex-common law wife. On these quintessential post-bop records, Larry Young's whoozy organ plays under and over the other instruments, feeling every bit as good as Unity (1964) but occupying the same interstellar space of his free jazz explorations in later years.