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Night Lights Classic Jazz

David Young’s Quiet Strength

David Young was an unsung hero of the same Indianapolis scene that gave the world Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson, and Wes Montgomery.

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  • David Young LP gatefold

    Image 1 of 4

    Photo: Album gatefold art.

    Tenor saxophonist David Young in the 1970s.

  • George Russell at the Five Spot

    Image 2 of 4

    Photo: Album cover art.

    Young played a prominent part in the David Baker hardbop group that pianist-composer George Russell took to New York City at the beginning of the 1960s.

  • David Young LP front

    Image 3 of 4

    Photo: Album cover art.

    Young released only one LP as a leader--an eponymous album for the Mainstream label.

  • David Young LP 2

    Image 4 of 4

    Photo: Album gatefold art.

    Young recruited an impressive supporting cast of musicians for his Mainstream LP.

The 1940s and 50s Indianapolis jazz scene produced several musicians who would go on to careers of international note:

An unsung hero of that scene passed away in February 2009: tenor saxophonist David Young was 75 at the time of his death. Young was a jazz artist unknown to the general public, but he was much-loved and respected among members of the Indiana jazz community. He was also admired by a small circle of jazz aficionados around the globe for his contributions to pianist George Russell’s albums of the early 1960s.

Affable yet reserved, and passionately dedicated to music, Young played with a quietly adventurous strength, and deliberately kept a low profile. The Night Lights show David Young: a Quiet Strength features:

  • the saxophonist’s recordings with Russell and Baker
  • two sides from his sole album date as a leader
  • a live performance with the Mercer Ellington-led Ellington Orchestra of the late 1970s
  • and an unreleased nightclub recording of Young with Baker’s late-1950s Indianapolis hardbop group
  • as well as Baker’s remembrances of his friend and colleague.

External References

Music Heard On This Episode

Waltz From Outer Space (excerpt)
George Russell — Jazz in the Space Age (GRP, 1998)
album cover
Waltz From Outer Space (excerpt)
George Russell — Jazz in the Space Age (GRP, 1998)
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Walkin' (excerpt)
David Baker

Notes: Recorded at the Topper nightclub in Indianapolis, late 1950s.

album cover
Kentucky Oysters (excerpt)
George Russell — Stratusphunk (OJC, 1995)
album cover
Dimensions (excerpt)
George Russell — Jazz in the Space Age (GRP, 1998)
album cover
Moment's Notice
George Russell — At the Five Spot (Verve, 2000)
album cover
Suspended Animation
David Young — David Young (Mainstream, 1972)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

album cover
Friday the Fourteenth
David Young — David Young (Mainstream, 1972)
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Three Black Kings (excerpt)
Mercer Ellington/Ellington Orchestra

Notes: Live performance from a 1977 Warsaw concert, featuring David Young on tenor saxophone.

album cover
For You With Love
David Young — David Young (Mainstream, 1972)
album cover
David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • http://wwwrejoicerejoice.org Willis F. Kirk Jr.

    David Young and I have worked together many, many times over the years. His Mother use to call him “Sonny” and when ever I would call him by telephone I would ask for Sonny and He would know right away who was calling. i do miss him very much. Willis Kirk

  • http://www.larryridley.com Larry Ridley

    David and I go back a long way as teenagers growing up as friends and musicians hanging out and performing together in Indianapolis and beyond. He always impressed me with his somewhat shy and gentle nature. David was a practice fanatic all of his life and was constantly reaching for higher levels of skill and musicianship. He always was a highly skilled playin’ ba-a-d M-F. I was playing with the Ellington band and will always cherish the fact that I was responsible for convincing Mercer to hire my “homeys” Jim Spaulding and David. When I spoke with Mercer about David, I told him that David, in terms of his playing and looks, would remind him somewhat of Paul Gonsolves. Mercer took the bait and was extremely satisfied. David was and is a rare treasure never to be forgotten.

  • Mark Sheldon

    …nice remembrances by both Mr Ridley and Mr. Kirk. Met David many times; always a gentlemen….a fabulous player! Mark Sheldon

  • http://www.larryridley.com/ Larry Ridley

    David and I go back a long way as teenagers growing up as friends and musicians hanging out and performing together in Indianapolis and beyond. He always impressed me with his somewhat shy and gentle nature. David was a practice fanatic all of his life and was constantly reaching for higher levels of skill and musicianship. He always was a highly skilled playin' ba-a-d M-F. I was playing with the Ellington band and will always cherish the fact that I was responsible for convincing Mercer to hire my “homeys” Jim Spaulding and David. When I spoke with Mercer about David, I told him that David, in terms of his playing and looks, would remind him somewhat of Paul Gonsolves. Mercer took the bait and was extremely satisfied. David was and is a rare treasure never to be forgotten.

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