It’s amazing there are still so many treasures in various vaults still waiting to be rediscovered. This double CD of music is taken from tapes found in the Office of French Radio and Television archives, and none of it has been heard before other than by those who were tuned in to the initianl French broadcasts 50 years or so ago.
The tracks date from 1964 and ’65, so predating Young’s Blue Note albums, and were recorded at the ORTF Studios or live at La Locomotive as part of the annual gathering of l’Académie du jazz. The bands are not all led by organist and pianist Young though he is on all the tracks. Some are the Nathan Davis Quartet, some are the Jazz aux Champs-Élysées All Stars. With Young are Davis and Jean-Claude Fohrenbach on tenors, Woody Shaw and Sonny Grey on trumpets, Jack Diéval on piano, Jacques B Hess on bass, Billy Brooks and Franco Manzecchi on drums and Jacky Bamboo on conga.
Although it’s full of the fizzy excitement of an early ’60s recording, the opener, Trane Of Thought, feels a little scrappy, with Shaw tending towards repetitions of the same runs over the quickly-paced bop of the Davis band. Young’s composition Talkin’ About J.C., with the bigger line-up – two trumpets, two tenors, organ, piano, drums and conga – is much better and develops into a solid groove, and by the time we get to La Valse Grise I’m feeling much more happy with the both the sound and the playing.
Disc two opens with the catchy Luny Tune from Young’s trio of organ, drums and conga, with the no-nonsense, concision of Young’s improvisational line already a marker of what was to come. Woody Shaw’s composition Beyond All Limits kicks off nicely, with Nathan Davis’ clear articulation at speed and a Shaw/Davis interchange two of the pleasures, while Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile and Shaw’s Zoltan finds them even more rambunctious in the live atmosphere of La Locomotive. This really is the beating heart of the collection.
Most of the tracks have generous proportions and balance well the looseness and risk-taking of jam sessions with the security and more focussed playing for radio broadcast.
There is a fine booklet of essays and pictures in this handsomely presented release. As Resonance Records and ORTF have struck up a partnership, let’s hope producer Zev Feldman digs up some more riches in the vaults.
Categories: CD review