Larry Coryell

Bolero/Scheherazade

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Much of Larry Coryell's work is as difficult to find as it is to categorize -- the man seemed to have spent the late '70s and early '80s making albums for anyone who could come up with a microphone and a tape recorder. That said, it's surprising how high the quality level is on most of these releases. Bolero/Scheherazade is one of the most difficult, as it seems to have been released only in Germany and Japan. The album's obscurity may have something to do with the fact that it is confusingly named; Larry Coryell released an album two years before called Bolero, which has nothing to do with this CD. The "Bolero" on that album was a short, improvised piece composed by Coryell, while the one featured here is a reworking of the classic by Maurice Ravel. In fact all the material here is classical, all written for a full orchestra, and all performed by Larry Coryell in two sessions, alone with one acoustic guitar. In truth he's up to the material, his playing spanning the full dynamic, from delicate flamenco-like picking to forceful, furiously strummed chords. "Ravel's Bolero" was designed as a showpiece for slowly building intensity, and even though any listener who has heard the piece knows what is going to happen, Coryell still surprises and delights with the version here. The lesser-known pieces by de Sarasate and de Falla are similarly excellent and may introduce new listeners to the delights of those Spanish composers. Bolero/Scheherazade is an excellent album, an overlooked gem that ranks with Larry Coryell's best classically inspired work.

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