Larry Coryell

Count's Jam Band Reunion

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First some background: Before fusion became popular in the early '70s, there was a community of musicians in NYC experimenting with jazz-rock in the mid- to late '60s. Two of the leaders of this movement were guitarist Coryell and a saxophonist known as Steve "The Count" Marcus. They documented these radical new ideas on two classic recordings made in 1967 and 1968 using the name Count's Rock Band. The two also collaborated on many of Coryell's later projects. They met up again in 1999, and decided to go at it again with drummer Steve Smith and bassist Kai Eckhardt. The music's not so radical anymore, since everyone's been through the fusion days, but the playing is incredible and as spirited as ever (musicians never seem to age, do they?). "Scotland" features a furious flurry of a melody testing the racing skills of Coryell and Marcus in tandem. "Reunion" features an off-meter percussion pattern and a push-and-pull interaction between Marcus' percussive soprano lines and Coryell's acoustic swirls. "Rhapsody in Blues" pays homage to Gershwin in a unique way, with the tandem jumping to and fro and overlapping each other and Smith banging away; they break for a lively piano solo by pianist Jeff Chimenti. "Blues for Yoshiro Hattori" shows off Marcus' wistful soprano skills, but is even more notable for its pulsing rhythm section. "Jammin' With the Count" is a crazy free for all that's best enjoyed by fans of these guys. Some of the other stuff will attract fusion curiosity seekers, but to get the full pleasure, you should know the history or be fans of the players in question.

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