Larry Young continues to push the envelope on this hot piece of avantprogfunkjazz. For those of you who aren’t acquainted with Young’s work, he’s been described as “the Coltrane of the organ” high praise indeed. Starting as a Jimmy Smith follower, he slowly began branching further into the sonic unknown, becoming a free and avant-jazz pioneer. His albums in the mid sixties are difficult, rewarding, challenging listens that established the Hammond B-3 as a true force in the avant game. He further cemented his legacy on Bitches Brew and in Lifetime, a trio with John McLaughlin and Tony Williams.
Fuel, on the other hand, is not difficult to listen to. At least for me. Larry never ran with the in-crowd, and in the ’70’s he began hanging with fringe musicians, young hungry artists willing to challenge the boundaries of sonic enjoyment. Larry was turned on and influenced by the psychedelic and funk/soul/r&b sounds of the day, and incorporates them into his avant-funk-jazz hybrid.
It’s definitely not the most polished funkjazz I’ve heard, but man does Larry sound progressive in spots. On “I Ching (Book of Changes)” and “New York Electric Street Music” you’d swear Rick Wakeman was playing. Mini Moog, Clavinet, B-3, Piano–Young plays it all. (Keep and ear out for Larry Coryell, who makes a “special appearance”)
The appeal of the album lies with Young’s ability to stay on the fringes of popular jazz. He’s definitely less subdued among his organ contemporaries, like Don Patterson, Jack McDuff, John Patton, Reuben Wilson, Jimmy Smith et al, and the funk here is true. Young refuses to play anything straight, and for me that equals a refreshing and satisfying album. This is drunken grimy 3AM frat house party jazz. Turn it on and go burn a couch and nail a chick.
++++- out of +++++