Larry Coryell

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Larry Coryell
Guitarist, Jazzman
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Larry Coryell (April 2, 1943 – February 19, 2017) was an American jazz guitarist known as the "Godfather of Fusion".

Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas. He graduated from Richland High School, in Richland, Washington, where he played in local bands the Jailers, the Rumblers, the Royals, and the Flames. He also played with the Checkers from nearby Yakima, Washington. He then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. He played in a number of popular Northwest bands, including the Dynamics, while living in Seattle.

In September 1965, Coryell moved to New York City, where he attended the Mannes School of Music, and then became part of Chico Hamilton's quintet, replacing Gabor Szabo. In 1967 and 1968, he recorded with Gary Burton. Also during the mid-1960s he played with the Free Spirits, his first recorded band. His music during the late-1960s and early-1970s combined the influences of rock, jazz, and eastern music. He married Jewish writer-actress Julie Nathanson before the release of his first solo album, Lady Coryell, which like Coryell, At the Village Gate, and, The Lion and the Ram featured her photos on the cover (there is a 'ghost' nude of her descending a staircase on the Aspects album cover). Julie's poetry was featured on the back cover of Ram. She was an important part of his career, as inspiration, management, and appearance at recording sessions. She wrote a book based on interviews with jazz-rock musicians, including John Abercrombie, and Jaco Pastorius.

In the early 1970s, he led a group called Foreplay with Mike Mandel, a childhood friend, although the albums of this period—Barefoot Boy, Offering, and The Real Great Escape—were credited only to "Larry Coryell." He formed the group The Eleventh House in 1973. The album sold well in college towns and the ensemble toured widely. Several of the group's albums featured drummer Alphonse Mouzon.

Following the breakup of this band, Coryell played mainly acoustic guitar but returned to electric guitar later in the 1970s. He released an album credited with Mouzon and an album with the Brubeck Brothers that was recorded direct-to-disc, a recording method revived for a time. He made several acoustic duet albums, two with Belgian guitarist (and former Focus member) Philip Catherine. Their album Twin House (1977), which contained the song "Miss Julie", drew favorable reviews.

In 1979, Coryell formed The Guitar Trio with fusion guitarist John McLaughlin and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía. The group toured Europe and released a video recorded at Royal Albert Hall in London entitled Meeting of Spirits. In early 1980, Coryell's drug addiction led to him being replaced by Al Di Meola. Julie Coryell sang on one track of Comin' Home (1984). The couple divorced in 1986. She died in 2009. Coryell recorded an album with (and was briefly romantically involved with) Emily Remler before her death from a heroin overdose while on tour in Australia.

In 2007, Coryell published an autobiography titled Improvising: My Life in Music. His two sons, Julian Coryell and Murali Coryell, are also involved in the music business. Coryell died of natural causes in New York City in his hotel room on February 19, 2017, at the age of 73.

Critical reception

In his review of the concert at the Iridium, David Miller of All About Jazz wrote:

  • "This was jazz at its finest—complex and virtuosic yet easily accessible, at times intense, at others fun-filled, and always with the feeling of the unknown that comes with truly spontaneous and inspired improvisation. While the music was steeped in the bop tradition, the musicians continually found new ways to utilize the idiom. Few locations other than New York could host a powerhouse gathering of musical heavyweights of this order, and one can only hope that the shows have been recorded for a future release."

When NPR radio host Billy Taylor, on one of the editions of Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center, introduced Coryell, he said:

  • Versatile virtuoso guitarist Larry Coryell proves to be more than an outstanding musician; he's also a particularly enlightening and affable conversationalist.


As leader
  • Lady Coryell (Vanguard, 1968)
  • Coryell (Vanguard, 1969)
  • Spaces (Vanguard, 1970) with John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Miroslav Vitouš, Chick Corea
  • Larry Coryell at the Village Gate (Vanguard, 1971) with Melvyn Bronson (bass), Harry Wilkinson (drums)
  • Barefoot Boy (Flying Dutchman, 1971)
  • Fairyland (1971) live at Montreux Jazz Festival
  • Offering (1972) with Harry Wilkinson, Melvyn Bronson, Steve Marcus, Mike Mandel
  • The Real Great Escape (1973)
  • The Restful Mind (1975) with Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Collin Walcott
  • Planet End (1976) with Billy Cobham
  • The Lion and the Ram (1977)
  • Two for the Road (1977) with Steve Khan
  • Twin House (1977) with Philip Catherine
  • Back Together Again (1977) with Alphonse Mouzon
  • Difference (1978)
  • Splendid (1978) with Philip Catherine
  • Standing Ovation (1978)
  • European Impressions (1978)
  • Tributaries (1979) with John Scofield and Joe Beck
  • Young Django (1979) with Stephane Grappelli
  • Tender Variations (1979) with Chet Baker, Billy Cobham, Ron Carter, Hubert Laws
  • Boléro (1981)
  • The Larry Coryell and Michael Urbaniak Duo (1982)
  • Scheherazade (1982)
  • L'Oiseau de Feu, Petrouchka (1983)
  • Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) (Philips, 1983)
  • Round Midnight (1983) with Fumio Karashima
  • Comin' Home (Muse, 1984)
  • A Quiet Day in Spring (SteepleChase, 1984) with Michael Urbaniak
  • The Four Seasons (1984) with Kazuhito Yamashita
  • Together (Concord Jazz, 1985) with Emily Remler
  • The 11th House (1985) with Alphonse Mouzon
  • 3 Guitars 3 with Sharon Isbin and Laurindo Almeida (Pro Arte, 1985)
  • Equipoise (Muse, 1986) with Buster Williams
  • Dedicated to Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro (1987) with Miroslav Vitous
  • Toku Do (Muse, 1987) with Buster Williams
  • Air Dancing (Jazz Point, 1988) with Buster Williams
  • Shining Hour (32 Jazz, 1989) with Buster Williams
  • Dragon Gate (Shanachie, 1989)
  • American Odyssey (DRG, 1990)
  • Twelve Frets to One Octave (Shanachie, 1991)
  • Fallen Angel (CTI, 1993)
  • I'll Be Over You (CTI, 1995)
  • Sketches of Coryell (Shanachie, 1996)
  • Spaces Revisited (Shanachie, 1997) with Billy Cobham
  • Cause and Effect (Tone Center, 1998) with Steve Smith, Tom Coster, Victor Wooten
  • The Coryells (Chesky, 1999) with Alphonse Mouzon
  • Private Concert (Live) (Acoustic Music, 1999)
  • Monk, Trane, Miles & Me (HighNote, 1999) with John Hicks, Willie Williams, Santi Debriano, Yoron Israel
  • New High (HighNote, 2000) with Buster Williams
  • Count's Jam Band Reunion (Tone Center, 2001) with Steve Smith, Steve Marcus
  • Cedars of Avalon (HighNote, 2002) with Buster Williams
  • Gypsy Blood and Voodoo Crossing (2002) – Jimi Hendrix tributes with Paul Santa Maria
  • Three Guitars (Chesky, 2003) with Badi Assad, John Abercrombie
  • The Power Trio: Live in Chicago (HighNote, 2003) with Larry Gray and Paul Wertico
  • Tricycles (Favored Nation, 2004)
  • Electric (Chesky, 2005) with Lenny White, Victor Bailey
  • Traffic (Chesky, 2006) with Lenny White and Victor Bailey
  • Laid Back & Blues: Live at the Sky Church in Seattle (Rhombus, 2006)
  • Impressions: The New York Sessions (Chesky, 2008)
  • Earthquake at the Avalon (2009)
  • Larry Coryell with the Wide Hive Players (Wide Hive, 2011)
  • Montgomery with John Colianni and James Cammack (Patuxent, 2011)
  • Duality with Kenny Drew Jr. (Random Acts, 2011)
  • The Lift (Wide Hive, 2013)
  • Heavy Feel (Planetworks/Wide Hive, 2015)

With The Eleventh House

  • Introducing Eleventh House with Larry Coryell (1974)
  • Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House at Montreux (1978)
  • Level One (1975)
  • Aspects (1976)
As sideman

With The Appletree Theatre

  • Playback (Verve, 1967)

With Jim Pepper

  • Pepper's Pow Wow (Embryo, 1971)

With Gary Burton

  • Duster (RCA, 1967)
  • Lofty Fake Anagram (RCA, 1967)
  • A Genuine Tong Funeral (RCA, 1968)
  • Gary Burton Quartet in Concert (RCA, 1968)

With Randy Brecker

  • Score (1969)

With the Jazz Composer's Orchestra

  • The Jazz Composer's Orchestra (1968)

With Wolfgang Dauner

  • Knirsch (1972)

With The 5th Dimension

  • Earthbound (1975)

With The Free Spirits

  • Out of Sight and Sound (1967)

With Chico Hamilton

  • The Dealer (Impulse!, 1966)

With Arnie Lawrence

  • Look Toward a Dream (1969)

With Herbie Mann

  • Memphis Underground (1969)

With Michael Mantler

  • Movies (1977)

With Steve Marcus

  • Tomorrow Never Knows (1968)
  • Count's Rock Band (1968)
  • The Lord's Prayer (1969)

With Charles Mingus

  • Three or Four Shades of Blues (Atlantic, 1977)
  • Me Myself An Eye (Atlantic, 1978)
  • Something Like A Bird (Atlantic, 1980)

With Bob Moses

  • Love Animal (1967–68)

With Chico O'Farrill

  • Nine Flags (Impulse!, 1966)

With The Arista All Stars

  • Blue Montreux (1978)

With Simon & Bard Group

  • The Enormous Radio with Paul Wertico (1984)

With Joey DeFrancesco

  • Wonderful, Wonderful (2012)

With Dennis Haklar

  • Lizard's Tale (2012)

With The Fusion Syndicate

  • The Fusion Syndicate (2012)

With The Wide Hive Players

  • Players II Guitar (2010)
  • Larry Coryell with The Wide Hive Players (2011)

With Dylan Taylor

  • One in Mind (2016)



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