I remember him from the 70's as a typical melodically challenged fusion show off with no real musical ideas. If he has grown into an actual musician I applaud him. Maybe he got off coke.
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I saw him at the Dakota in Minneapolis a couple of years ago, accompanied by one of my favorite fusion drummers, Lenny White. Compared to an appearance there a few years before that, there was more of a connection with the audience and heart-felt, patient/thoughtful playing that came through. I suspect, as Chashmal said, he may have been dealt with some demons of his own.
I saw him a few years back at the Detroit Jazz fest with a bass player and drummer from Pat Metheny's band. They were excellent. As tight as I have ever heard. They had us rocking with an infectious rythm that kept progressing to cresendos, much like Metheny in concert.
Afterwards they talked to the audience. One guy reached out to shake Larry's hand and he went to hand him his guitar! Talk about friendly!
What a horrible and judgmental post. Larry has been mostly acoustic for a long time. Has been doing his nice arrangement of Bolero for a long time. Some of the fusion was good and a lot of it sucked. His son is a great player too. The thing is you don't get to decide what we like......Thank God for that!
Some of Coryell's best work has actually been recorded over the past eight years. He did a few albums for CTI to try and get some radio airplay as part of the "smooth jazz" genre in the 1990's. Ultimately decided to be true to himself and pursue the straight ahead and fusion jazz that he really wanted to play, regardless of the economic consequences.
I think he is a better straight ahead jazz player than his friends McLaughlin and Di Meola. This is a guy who ultimately has made very few creative sacrifices in the name of wealth and recognition. In one interview he explained that a lot of the fusion movement was the result of young players trying to bring something new to the table at that time.
The performance at the Jazz Showcase was very dynamic, and passionate. He played a number of straight ahead jazz numbers in tribute to Wes Montgomery but also played a solo acoustic rendition of Ravel's Bolero with an "Indian" twist and a number of pieces from his 2004 Tricyles album.
It was a blast for a guitar enthusiast like myself. He is a guitar player's guitar player. A perfect blend of virtuosity, blues rock guitar tendencies, and respect for the art form of traditional straight ahead jazz.
It is amazing to me that such exceptional talents are so accessible. After the show Larry and the group was just milling around with the audience, signing autographs and CDs.
Electroid: 'Judgement' is our friend. Without it we would all be in the dark. It is a tool for discriminative appreciation. If my stance on technically oriented 70's fusion offended you, then write it off to a difference in aesthetic 'tastes' if you will. I happen to own far too many of Mr. Coryell's early albums, and I have thought a bit over the years about what I believe is the central flaw of his thinking and playing. If it was my comment on his drug use, then that's another thing altogether. That is not a subjective taste issue, it is quite pertinent and relevant to what the audience takes away from what a musician plays and how it is conceived. When artists use drugs and go on to make public works we (the audience) have to put the pieces together, and it can be a very important element in deciphering the pieces of the puzzle of what we hear. Plus, my comment was actually positive. I applauded the possibility that his drug abuse has ended and he might have grown as a musician.
Maybe I should clarify. Music is born from a complex intersection of influences. Drugs can be very influential in what we end up hearing. I am not against drug use in the making of art. Sometimes it can work out well at stages of a musician's development as in the cases of Billie Holliday, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix, and Syd Barrett. But in all these cases it turned into personal disaster.
However more often than not, what you get is unfulfilled potential and dreary predictability, which contradicts what we think of as 'experimentation'. Coryell is such an example. His early albums show profound technical prowess which gets all revved up and goes nowhere in terms of creative experimentation and improvisation. Maybe if he was sober he could have been great, we will never know. He certainly was not a Coltrane, Parker, Hendrix, or Billie Holliday type figure in that sense. He remained quite average and dwelled in the vast sea mediocrity, IMO.
As I said, I am unfamiliar with his work of the last 15 or so years, and I hope he has matured as a person and a musician. That's all.