Friday, October 6, 2023

 Well, yes, here it is, another brief plug for the hesitant and the unfamiliar to listen jazz-rock guitar godhead Larry Coryell, a wonderful musician who passed away  in 2017. I've posted a fair number of articles, blurbs, and reviews on the musician's innovations and contributions to not have to go at length again on what makes him an essential addition to anyone's jazz library. Coryell is thought of as a jazz guitarist primarily, but he (and John McLaughlin, separately)  created what came to known as jazz rock (later) fusion guitar improvisation in the early to mid sixties. Coryell's work combined virtuoso jazz technique with a solid grounding in classical and Spanish traditions, which he melded with the raw power of rock, soul, and blues; his speed on the frets was incalculable, his energy unmatched, the course of his manic improvisations unpredictable. He raised the standard  for rock guitarists, again for generations to come, and , I insist, he laid the groundwork for fusion and shred guitarists yet to appear. No Coryell (or McLaughlin), no Van Halen, no Malmsteen, no Holdsworth. A simplistic equation, yes, but it makes the point that Larry Coryell changed the way jazz and rock guitar gets played: he pushed the style a couple of light years into the future. Here's a sample of his careening genius. This piece is from an audition tape he and some bandmates made in the 70s, featuring a bright, rapidly paced, nearly reckless rendition of one of Coryell's finest compositions, "Good Citizen Swallow", a tune he contributed to the Gary Burton Quartet who, who he played for in the mid-Sixties . Those albums, Duster, Lofty Fake Anagram, and Duster , are often argued to be among the important releases that forged a path toward the creation of a new musical genre, fusion. The tune is named for Burton bassist Steve Swallow, a very fine musician and composer in his own right. Coryell's work on this demo tape is lively, unpredictable, with his solo at different stages seeming to channel his inner Keith Richard with some deftly placed split chord chunks, and other times suggesting that he'd listened not a little to James Burton. 

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