Unity (Larry Young album)

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Studio album by Larry Young
Released 1966
Recorded November 10, 1965
Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs
Genre Jazz
Length 40:02
Label Blue Note
BST 84221
Producer Alfred Lion
Larry Young chronology
Into Somethin'
Of Love and Peace
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Penguin Guide to Jazz 4/4 stars

Unity is an album by jazz organist Larry Young, released on the Blue Note label. While not free jazz, the album features innovative experimentation. The title was chosen by Young because "although everybody on the date was very much an individualist, they were all in the same frame of mood. It was evident from the start that everything was fitting together."[2] The album was Young's second for Blue Note, following on from Into Somethin'.


Three of the six tracks were composed by Woody Shaw. The first, "Zoltan", starts with part of a march from the Háry János suite of Zoltán Kodály and continues in the Lydian mode. The second, "The Moontrane", is dedicated to John Coltrane, "as can be heard in the harmonic cycles in it", explained Shaw.[2] The third, "Beyond All Limits", has a difficult harmonic progression, but, in Shaw's words, "once the inherent difficulties of the tune are solved, there are no limits as to where you can go with it".[2] "If" is a 12-bar Joe Henderson composition; "Monk's Dream" (played only by Young and drummer Elvin Jones) is by Thelonious Monk; and "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" is a Hammerstein & Romberg composition.[2]

Drummer Elvin Jones played "a standard 4-piece drum kit with two cymbals and hi-hat".[3]


Scott Yanow states that Unity "is considered Larry Young's finest recording".[4] Billboard Magazine called the album "a sureshot for jazz fans".[5] The Penguin Guide to Jazz awarded it a rare crown and four-star rating, describing it as "Quite simply a masterpiece."[6] Also, saxophonist Michael Brecker referred to the album as a favourite of his.[7]

The album's cover art, by Reid Miles, has also become well known. In 2008, graphic designer Mike Dempsey picked it as one of his favorite album covers, stating that it shows "Ultimate simplicity [...] Put in an album rack today it would still raise an eyebrow as it looks remarkably fresh".[8]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Zoltan" (Woody Shaw) - 7:41
  2. "Monk's Dream" (Thelonious Monk) - 5:48
  3. "If" (Joe Henderson) - 6:46
  4. "The Moontrane" (Shaw) - 7:21
  5. "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Sigmund Romberg) - 6:24
  6. "Beyond All Limits" (Shaw) - 6:02





  1. ^ Jurek, Thom (2011). "Unity - Larry Young | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Original liner notes by Nat Hentoff
  3. ^ Riley, John (1997) Beyond Bop Drumming, Alfred Music, p. 50.
  4. ^ Yanow, Scott (2003) Jazz on Record: The First Sixty Years, Backbeat Books, p. 624.
  5. ^ "Album Reviews: Unity" (August 27, 1966) Billboard, p. 41.
  6. ^ Cook, Richard and Morton, Brian (2008) The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.), Penguin, p. 1534.
  7. ^ "Brecker Enlists 3 Favorite Drummers" (November 6, 1999)Billboard, p. 43.
  8. ^ "Album Cover Design: Art on the sleeve" (October 16, 2008) Design Week, Vol. 23, Issue 42.