Larry Coryell dies aged seventy three…
In 1983 Channel 4 aired a series called Jazz on 4, a series of concerts featuring the genre’s leading exponents and without doubt the best of them all, in my opinion, was the 1979 concert at the Royal Albert Hall featuring the guitarists John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia and Larry Coryell. An acoustic performance which forever changed my idea of how a guitar could be played and introduced me to a completely new world of music and possibilities.
Much of the music played that night was versions of McLaughlin’s pieces and showed the trio playing Mahavishnu’s The Meeting of The Spirits in a spellbinding set which showcased flamenco, jazz and rock roots. I remember being most taken with John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia was incredibly talented but McLaughlin appeared to be the main man whilst the American Larry Coryell in his white suit with flared trousers, huge mop of hair and ill-fitting glasses won me over with his more natural, less technical style. As part of The Guitar Trio, he became a familiar face to followers of McLaughlin and de Lucia but was eventually replaced by Al di Meola as a result of Coryell’s drug addiction.
In terms of pure technical ability he was not on a par with the other two but he was there for good reason, since the 1960s Coryell had pioneered the jazz-fusion world as both a solo artist and with his highly influential band Eleventh House. In a career spanning six decades Coryell released some sixty solo albums and whilst he never attained the global success of some of those he played with (McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Gary Burton and Chet Baker) he was one of the most highly respected jazz musicians of his generation.
Coryell helped steer the ship through some of Jazz’s most exciting and innovative periods of the late sixties and early seventies. He worked tirelessly and leaves behind a body of work and a legacy deserving of a wider audience but appreciated and admired by those of us who knew.
Larry Coryell 1942-2017
Categories: The Music Lounge
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