It’s always a thrill to learn that an unissued recording of an important artist has been discovered, and we’re usually willing to put up with less-than-optimum sound quality just to hear such treasures.
Happily, fidelity is not an issue with the newly released archival recordings of organist Larry Young. On In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance), we are treated to ten high quality, live and studio tracks from 1964 and ’65, recorded by the Office of French Radio and Television and stored by the National Audiovisual Institute (INA). The collection highlights the young keyboardist (still in his early 20s) during his tenure in the City of Light, both as a sideman in the Nathan David Quartet (featuring 19-year-old Woody Shaw on trumpet) and the Jazz aux ChampsÉlysées All-Stars, as well as in his own piano trio. Through these recordings we hear Young extending the boundaries of the music and his instrument just before his return to the States to record Unity for Blue Note and, later, to collaborate with Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, and Jimi Hendrix.
In Paris: The ORTF Recordings is available as a two-CD set or in a limited edition two-LP package (with download card). The extensive liner notes include interviews with McLaughlin, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Bill Laswell, and others, with many never-before-seen photos from that period. The LP includes six postcard-size reproductions of the photos.
All told, this release is not only historically important, particularly to the legacy of Young, but it’s a great joy to listen to. Highly recommended.