Larry Young: 1964-65


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By now, fans of Larry Young have worn out their copies of the organist's Blue Note leadership albums, including the masterpieces Into Somethin' (1964) and Unity (1965). You also probably have exhausted his hypnotizing albums with Grant Green—Talkin' About (1964), Street of Dreams (1964), I Want to Hold Your Hand (1965) and His Majesty King Funk (1965) as well as Tony Williams Lifetime's Emergency! (1969) and Miles Davis's Bitches Brew (1969), which are gateways to jazz-rock fusion, and his work with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Now, Resonance Records has issued a two-CD set of previously unreleased material—Larry Young in Paris: The ORTF Recordings—providing a vital missing link between the two totemic Blue Note recordings just mentioned. Unlike other jazz organists of the period, Young approached the instrument like a conga or bongo, tapping out his solos with a syncopated feel and using distinct chord voicings on modal originals that hummed and popped. This was a departure from the more traditional call-and-response church-based blues attack of other organists then. 

In this regard, Young liberated the instrument from its role as a combo workhorse by using lingering chords to build drama while solos were more avant-garde and cerebral, expressing soulful statements rather than blues riffs. 

Here's producer Zev Feldman on the origin of this material from his liner notes:

“A couple of years ago I was able to make contact with representatives of one of the richest of all the European archives—INA, the Institut National de L'Audiovisuel of France. An initiative of the French government, INA oversees media vaults including the world-famous RTF/ORTF (Radiodiffusion-Television Fracaise/Office de Radiodiffusion-Television Francaise) archives, which contain a wealth of broadcasting treasures documenting, among other things, the work of some of the greatest American jazz artists who ever traveled to or lived in France...

“As luck would have it, we discovered in INA's archives all of the tracks we've included in this album, tracks featuring Larry as either a leader or, in the case of several of the tracks, Larry as a sideman both with the great tenor saxophonist, flutist and bandleader Nathan Davis, and with the Jazz aux Champs-Elysees All Stars under the direction of French music broadcasting icon Jack Dieval."

Young died in 1978 at age 37 after checking into a New York hospital with stomach pains.

As always with Resonance, terrific sound restoration by George Klabin and Fran Gala. Plus an information-rich 68-page booklet. This is the historic jazz release of the year to beat.

JazzWax tracks: You'll find Larry Young in Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance) here.

JazzWax clip: Here's a promo video for the album...

So you have an immediate sense of why Young and this new Resonance set is so important, here's Paris Eyes from Young's Into Somethin' (Blue Note). You dig?

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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