Another sad reminder that everything can be over and gone any day now: the great Larry Coryell has passed – I just talked to him four weeks ago in Berlin at the office opening of ACT Music. We chatted about his new “Barefoot Man: Sanpaku” album. He was true Larry: making jokes, flirting with the ladies at the reception and looking good.
The last album sums up Larry’s artistry in a perfect way. It shows all his trademarks that we’ve come to enjoy over the years. It was produced by Larry himself and recorded at Solar Studios in Orlando, Florida, and features Lynne Arriale on piano, John Lee on bass, Lee Pierson on drums, and Dan Jordan on sax and flute. The Texas-born guitarist was also known as the “Godfather of Fusion”, being one of the first artists to combine jazz, rock, and eastern music (or world music). He founded the group The Eleventh House in 1973 where the late great Alphonse Mouzon played the drums.
You can always hear a lot of joy in his music – listen to his very open and hands-on playing on “Improv On 97” or “Manteca” from his new CD. His amazingly swirling guitar on the title track is just fascinating to hear and every one of his seven compositions on the album let his band mates soar to their own artistic heights. His tribute to Miles Davis, “If Miles Were Here”, is also a tribute to the ever-evolving, boundless world of fusion jazz. He plays both a Gibson Super 400 Electric and a Martin Acoustic on the record and his ability to compose tender and sweet pieces like “Penultimate” also strengthens his standing as a consummate improviser. And with “Blue Your Mind”, his last album concludes with a fiery statement, incorporating the blues in a jazz-jam hybrid which makes a lot of fun.
Larry died on Sunday at age 73.