A major jazz “find”…
Larry Young – In Paris: The ORTF Recordings – Resonance/ INA HCD-2022 (2 CDs) 52:54, 53:06 (1964-1965) ****1/2:
(Larry Young – organ and piano; Woody Shaw – trumpet; Nathan Davis – tenor sax; Billy Brooks drums; Jean-Claude Fohrenbach – tenor sax; Sonny Grey – trumpet; Jack Dieval – piano; Jacques B. Hess – bass; Franco Manzecchi – drums; Jacky Bamboo – conga)
It’s about time that consideration is given to Zev Feldman at Resonance Records, for the honorary award of “jazz archaeologist.” In the last few years Feldman has released several “unearthed” previously-unissued recordings from Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, and Charles Lloyd. Add to that the just-released initial recordings of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.
The latest treasure from Resonance is the French National Radio recordings of organist Larry Young with a band that includes trumpeter Woody Shaw. The pairing of these two incendiary figures is a match made in heaven, comparable to a 1960s classic Blue Note session.
Both Young and Shaw pushed “the envelope” going outside traditional hard bop/ soul jazz influences. Larry achieved this with Miles Davis, and John McLaughlin with Tony Williams, while Woody’s edgy firebrand persona embraced John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy. Young and Shaw were both active in Newark, New Jersey’s burgeoning jazz scene in the early 1960s.
Larry Young temporarily relocated to France in late 1964, and joined Woody Shaw whose intention was to play with Eric Dolphy in Paris. Unfortunately, Dolphy suddenly passed away. (Shaw came nevertheless, and soon encouraged Larry to experience the Parisian jazz scene). They joined a house band at Le Chat Qui Peche formed by tenor saxophonist, Nathan Davis, and spent several months in Paris.
While there Young recorded at the Radio France studio with Davis’ quartet, as well as with an international all-star group while leading a piano trio on his own. The recorded output lay dormant for almost five decades in the French INA archives. This is where producer Zev Feldman from Resonance Records enters the picture. Zev had gone to Paris in 2012 to explore the archives. There he discovered the existence of Young’s recordings.
Now four years later Resonance is issuing in remastered stereo two CDs with material from Dec. 1964 to Feb. 1965. Sound restoration has been done by George Klabin and Fran Gala, who have done an exceptional job. The nearly two hours presented here feature Young and Shaw together on six of the ten tracks. What stands out fifty years later is how vibrant and contemporary the arrangements are. The influences of the modal and post bop scene of the time period are evident, as well as Young’s use of pentatonic scales.
Soon after these recordings Young became a force in jazz fusion and became influenced by rock music. He recorded with Jimi Hendrix and Santana. Sadly, he passed away in 1978 at only 38 years old.
Highlights on the two CDs are numerous. “Trane of Thought” and “Talkin’ About J.C.” honor Coltrane. The opener has Shaw spitting fire while Young’s organ lines percolate. “J.C.” is played by an octet with a second tenor and trumpet added. The standard, “Mean to Me,” an organ trio with drums and conga, is mainstream. Disc 1 is closed with two extended pieces, “La Valse Grise” and “Discotheque,” a blues. Both are performed by the Jazz aux Champs-Elysees All-Stars.
Disc 2, mostly recorded at the end of Young’s stay, held more interest to me. “Beyond All Limits” was later recorded on Young’s iconic Unity album. Here it is a modal feature for Woody Shaw and Nathan Davis. Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile” has a young Shaw blowing fire, clearly a match for Freddie Hubbard in 1965.
“Zoltan,” at over 20 minutes, is the one track that will attract the most attention as it is the most harmonically advanced with much experimentation evident. Disc 2 is closed with Young on piano in a trio on his own on “Larry’s Blues.”
In Paris: The ORTFF Recordings includes an historically significant 68 page booklet with essays by John McLaughlin, Bill Laswell, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and jazz historians. There are also remembrances from the sons of both Larry Young and Woody Shaw.
Fans of Larry Young have waited for years for unreleased material. Larry was heading off in a myriad of directions when he left us way too early. Don’t pass up the opportunity to hear him in his 20s ready to take on the world.
If audiophile fans of Larry Young and Woody Shaw are feeling especially flush with the recent uptick in the stock market, and wish to reward themselves for their good taste, then the purchase of the deluxe 180 gm 2 LP issue from Resonance Records may be just the ticket. The LPs are remastered by the iconic Bernie Grundman, and pressed by RTI.
They are presented in a gatefold package, and include the liner notes from the CD version in a classy album size format which is much easier on the eyes than the CD sized booklet. As an added bonus, Resonance has included six postcards featuring photos from archives of Blue Note’s Francis Wolff, Jean-Pierre Leloir, and INA. There is also a digital download card so you can have this music while on the go.
The acoustics presented on vinyl are a warm sounding step up from the CD set. (Resonance is only pressing 2000 copies of the LP edition, so prompt action is advised.)
Disc 1: Trane of Thought, Talkin’ About J.C., Mean to Me, La Valse Grise, Discotheque
Disc 2: Luny Tune, Beyond All Limits, Black Nile, Zoltan, Larry’s Blues