Larry Young was a contemporary of Jimmy Smith, who is indisputably better known in terms of jazz organ legacy. However, Zev Feldman the producer of this attractive new two-CD package, Larry Young in Paris, has no doubts about who made the greater impact in the long term.

 “Jimmy Smith was a pioneer who took the Hammond organ out of the church,  but Larry Young took the organ out of this world,“ declares Feldman of the musician who died at the age of 38 in 1978. Recorded at a time when black American players thrived in Paris, these French (ORTF) radio sessions mostly feature Smith as member of the Nathan Davis Quartet.

Trumpeter Woody Shaw was 19 years of age when he was persuaded to croos the Atlantic to join an ensemble which Nathan Davis was forming in 1964. After a few weeks in Paris, Shaw began to feel homesick and persuaded Davis and the owner of the legendary Paris club, le chat quie peche, to invite his Newark pals, drummer Billy Brooks and organist Larry Young to come on over. Thus the Nathan Davis Quartet was born, celebrated here on two discs, plus a 68-page booklet.

Listen to the first track on disc one, the Nathan Davis-composed Trane of Thought  and fall in with its personable, warm groove, nothing’s too heavy, everything is delightfully cohesive and smooth. Davis leads off on sax, Shaw blows blithely, Brooks and Young are understated yet definitely in the game. Track two, Talkin About JC is the perfect organ showcase for Young who composed the piece.  

Eight of the ten tracks were recorded at the studios of ORTF (French Radio) in Paris. The two remaining tunes were cut at La Locomotive club in Paris, and include a version of the familiar Wayne Shorter composition, Black Nile. 

Shaw’s 20 minute-plus showpiece, the exuberant Zoltan also gets a reading, but there is a leisurely feel to most everything else. Mean to Me is another organ-led piece, on which Larry is accompanied by Franco Manzecchi on drums and Jacky Bamboo on conga.

The mood tends to the blues, as in the loping Discothèque and Davis's quartet is joined by Jack Diéval on piano for the endearing blues shuffle, La Valse Gris which was ''possibly' (composed) by Diéval himself. Young switches to piano for the final track, which, what d'you know, is entitled Larry's Blues, as the man bows out in style.

Paddy Kehoe