WHATEVER HAPPENED TO-John Young Trios: The Complete Argo & Vee-Jay Recordings

Releases such as this one from Fresh Sound Records proves my theory that there are certain periods of musical history that there is a surfeit of talented artists that simply get overlooked. The late 50s and early 60s was one of those times, and fortunately, this label brings out music from a guy I never even knew existed, let alone would want to hear more from.

Pianist John Young was a Chicago mainstay in the mid 20th century, declining offers from the likes of Nancy Wilson to tour, preferring the local scene and pleasant obscurity. He did some work with Ella, Sarah and Dexter, but basically kept to himself. These four sessions in a trio format with Herbert Brown-Bill Yancey-Sam Kidd/b and Larry Jackson-Philip Thomas/dr reveal an artist who had touches of certain influences such as Jamal, Garland and Garner, but ended up with a voice all his own.

The first disc includes two sessions (Young John Young & Opus De Funk) with the Brown and Jackson team from ’56 and ’57. The mix of standards like “Star Eyes,” jazz standards like “Bags’ Groove” and originals like “Patsy” reveal a tasteful display of melodious charm and in the pocket grooves. This guy adds little  bluesy phrases to pieces like “Three Penny Opera” and does delightful dressings to the theme. The two sessions on the second disc (Themes and Things & A Touch of Pepper) are highlighted by a deeply felt take of “Spartacus” and ultra Rat Packish “Fly Me Too The Moon.”  The rapport with the supporting guys is exquisite.

Young put out releases until about 1987, and died in 08. You’ll want to  use this as a starting point for an unfortunately overlooked charmer.

Fresh Sound Records


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