Larry Coryell will always be best known for arguably being the first fusion guitarist, but his career has been quite wide-ranging ever since the late '60s. On Shining Hour , he mostly sticks to jazz standards other than his own "Floyd Gets a Gig" and Brian Torff's "Apathy Rains." Several of the selections are identified with Miles Davis including "Nefertiti" and "The Sorcerer" but there are also hard swinging versions of "All the Things You Are" and "My Shining Hour." Coryell, whose playing works well in this (for him) rare setting although he is not really a boppish improviser, interacts with pianist Kenny Barron (who sometimes takes solo honors), bassist Buster Williams and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith.
The Eleventh House during 1972-1975 was one of the stronger working groups in fusion, led by one of the unsung heroes of the idiom, guitarist Larry Coryell. This CD reissue brings back the Eleventh House's first recording and, in addition to Coryell's guitar, most heavily featured are trumpeter Randy Brecker (who would later be replaced by Mike Lawrence) and keyboardist Mike Mandel; bassist Danny Trifan and drummer Alphonse Mouzon are strong in backup roles.
In Memoriam. Larry Coryell, a guitarist who played rock 'n' roll as a teen but wound up pioneering jazz-rock fusion starting in the mid-1960s and then psychedelic fusion in the early '70s, died on Feb. 19. He was 73. RIP Mr. Coryell. In the 1970s, Germany's Radio Bremen simulcast a series of modern jazz concerts from all across the spectrum, and wisely archived them. Record producer Consul Bodo Jacoby was looking for a new project after losing the rights to reissue the MPS catalog and recalled them. His Promising Music label is issuing a number of these vintage performances in what he calls the Livelove series, of which January 1975 is the first volume.
As one of the pioneers of jazz-rock perhaps the pioneer in the ears of some Larry Coryell deserves a special place in the history books. He brought what amounted to a nearly alien sensibility to jazz electric guitar playing in the 1960s, a hard-edged, cutting tone, phrasing and note-bending that owed as much to blues, rock and even country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences. Yet as a true eclectic, armed with a brilliant technique, he is comfortable in almost every style, covering almost every base from the most decibel-heavy, distortion-laden electric work to the most delicate, soothing, intricate lines on acoustic guitar.
The names Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie are synonymous with Jazz fusion guitar for the past thirty odd years. With those two names on the masthead it is fair to assume that you're in store for phenomenal guitar playing. But the inclusion of Badi Assad, an unknown quantity for me, resulted in a performance of the likes I could not have anticipated. The guitar playing was superlative, with all three proving their virtuosity on many an occasion, but Assad was unlike any performer I have ever seen before. While her guitar playing is significant, her vocal gymnastics and percussion proficiency stole the spotlight from her more famous band mates.
This CD reissue brings back material that guitarist Larry Coryell recorded for the Novus subsidiary when it was run by Arista. Most of the set matches Coryell with fellow guitarists John Scofield and Joe Beck in acoustic trios, two duets and one overdubbed solo performance. The variation of moods and the jazz-oriented material make this summit meeting a success even if the guitarists tend to sound more distinctive on their electric counterparts; after about 20 minutes of similar sounding acoustic guitars, it is difficult not to doze off. Expanding the original program are four Coryell solo acoustic performances that were originally included in the Arista Novus LP European Impressions. Once again, they are well played but primarily of interest to guitarists.
Veteran guitarist Larry Coryell's third High Note CD is primarily a bop-oriented quartet session with pianist John Hicks, bassist Santi Debriano, and drummer Yoron Israel. The music ranges from a superb arrangement of Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge" to a subtle take of Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin's Dance"; Debriano contributed the brisk samba "Abra Cadabra." The leader switches to acoustic guitar for his duet with Debriano of Ray Bryant's tasty blues "Tonk"; he also plays acoustic guitar during a solo take of his intricate "Turkish Coffee." Producer Don Sickler adds his potent trumpet to two numbers written by Harold Land: the hard-driving "Compulsion" and the more easygoing "Terrain." This very enjoyable session is heartily recommended.