Larry Young – In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (review)

Larry Young – In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance) review

He jammed with Hendrix and played on Miles’ Bitches Brew

One of the drawbacks of streaming being the primary way we get music now, is that LP jackets and CD booklets helped us get deeper into the music: liner notes, lyrics and photos helped paint a more vibrant picture of the music contained within. One record label that is trying to keep the physical aspect of music alive is Resonance Records – and their latest release, Larry Young’s In Paris: The ORTF Recordings is a prime example of their brilliance.
Young was hugely influential, especially as the organist on such seminal jazz-rock fusion recordings as Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Emergency by Tony Williams’ Lifetime. He also took part in a late-night jam session with Jimi Hendrix and played with Carlos Santana – and that’s just barely scratching the surface of his great, but all-too-brief career.

The recordings on In Paris are taken from French radio and TV archives – performances from 1964-65 that have never been heard since their original broadcast. Some showcase Young, backed simply by percussion (as on the groovin’ “Mean to Me”). Others feature him as a sideman for Nathan Davis (as on the mind-blowing, 20-minute rendition of “Zoltan,” which would appear on Young’s classic Unity album a year later).

Most of the tracks here are played with a free spirit, obviously under the spell of John Coltrane. The exceptions are the late-night “Discotheque” and “Larry’s Blues,” which showcases the organist on piano.

But, the music here is only half the story, as Resonance has assembled an exhaustive, 68-page booklet featuring interviews and essays that cover every aspect of these recordings, from Young’s own son, to fellow musicians, to people who ran the French radio program. Along the way, such disparate names as Cher, Sidney Bechet, Hendrix, and George Benson are mentioned, showing the incredible web that this brilliant musician wove with his adventurous music. You literally can get lost in all these great stories – especially, if you take side tracks and listen to all the other albums that Young took part in.
Both for its trailblazing music and stellar accompanying booklet, In Paris is a must for jazz and jazz-fusion fans. —Tony Peters