The soulful playing of Red Young on Hammond organ will sweep you up on this week’s “Live At Jazz, TX.” Young says the instrument reminds him of the human voice, with its high tremolo. (Give a listen about 16 minutes into the show to hear him explain it.)
Though he’s a master of jazz and blues, Young’s musical interests were piqued as a boy in Fort Worth.
“I studied classical piano when I was growing up,” Young explains. “There was a church organist, named Helen Joyce, and she played at Broadway Baptist Church. So I would go down there every so often to try to figure out the organ.
“When I actually started playing, there was a club on the east side of Fort Worth called the Flamingo. And I was 18 years old, the drinking age was 21… I wasn't supposed to be in there. There was a jazz organ trio that played every Sunday. They’d have jam sessions and it was either Flo Greene or Cousin Charlie Greene that played the organ. And so I kind of sneaked in, and they said, ‘come up here and play!’ So that's what actually started me on it."
Hear this week’s edition of “Live At Jazz, TX” Saturday night at 7:00 on Texas Public Radio, or in the audio player below. Songs include "Sweet Georgia Bright," "Mucci's Jag," and "More Today Than Yesterday." This episode is sponsored by Whole Earth Provision Company.
AS A SIDEMAN
In addition to leading his own trio, Red Young’s career has found him playing as a sideman or session musician with some of the best in the business, including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Joan Armatrading, and Linda Ronstadt. He tells the story of working with her on an arrangement of “Mr. Sandman.”
“Linda was just wonderful to work with. I was with her during the period when she worked with Nelson Riddle's orchestra. She had done the ‘What’s New’ album, which was with the full orchestra and Linda wanted to take this on the road. And Nelson said, ‘You're going to put everybody to sleep!’ because the whole album was ballads. ‘Add something to the show that perks it up a little bit.’ So she came into a club where I was playing and I was working with a vocal group, and one of the songs we did was ‘Mr. Sandman,’ and she had sung that with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harrison. So she said, ‘come to Peter Asher's office we'll rehearse, and we'll see if it works out.”
Young continues, “Linda didn't read music, so I just gave her the notes, and the other two girls would walk around the office with headphones on singing their parts, and nobody could hear each other! Linda came over to me with those big brown eyes and she said, ‘Am I singing the right note?’”
“Yeah it's fine. Whatever you sing is fine! It was a really wonderful experience, working with a beautiful beautiful voice.”
Hear ‘Mr. Sandman’ below.