Larry Coryell

Larry Coryell is a pioneer of jazz-rock, perhaps the pioneer in some’s ears. He deserves a special place on the history books. His 1960s jazz-rock playing brought a strange sensibility to the genre. He had a sharp, sharp tone and his phrasing and note-bending owed a lot to country, blues, rock and country. He was a true mixologist, and he had a great technique that allowed him to be comfortable with almost any style. This included the most distortion-laden, decibel-heavy electric work to the most soothing, delicate lines on an acoustic. A lot of his best-known electric work from the ’60s and ’70s was lost in the digital age. This was due to the erratic reissue plans of Vanguard, RCA and other labels and jazz-rock’s low status. Coryell says that his love for jazz began at age four. His family moved from Galveston, Texas to Washington three years later. He then started learning the guitar by studying recordings by Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel. He was a teenager in the band of pianist Mike Mandel. In 1965, he quit his journalism studies at Washington University to pursue his dream of becoming a musician in New York. He was a popular Greenwich Village musician and replaced Gabor Zabo in Chico Hamilton’s band. He made a remarkable recording debut in 1966 on Hamilton’s The Dealer album. His blues and rock ideas were brought to the forefront. That year, he also joined a proto-jazz-rock group, the Free Spirits. His name was even more well-known in 1967-1968, when he performed with Gary Burton’s band. He also played solo on Herbie Mann’s 1968 classic Memphis Underground album. He, Mandel and Steve Marcus founded a group called Foreplay, not related to the later Fourplay, in 1969. This became the core of Eleventh House’s jazz-rock band Eleventh House by 1973. After a promising start, Eleventh House ran out of steam with a series of poor albums. Coryell ended his career in 1975 and concentrated on acoustic music. He also performed a number of trio and duo sessions with Joe Beck, Joe Scofield, Joe Khan, Steve Khan and John McLaughlin. Coryell toured in the mid-80s with McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia and participated in a five way guitar session in 1986 with Larry Carlton, Farlow, Scofield and John Abercrombie as part of the Jazzvisions series. Coryell recorded with Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins and also taped Brazilian music for CTI. He also taped solo guitar for Shanachie, Acoustic Music and classical transcriptions for Stravinsky and Rimsky Korsakov. Coryell’s early 21st-century career was equally active. 2004 saw the release Tricycles, a great trio featuring drummer Paul Wertico as well as bassist Mark Egan. From 2005, Electric saw Coryell performing jazz standards and rock songs with Victor Bailey on electric basse and Leny White on drums. He released the 2006 performance album, Laid Back.

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