This 1968 set is for anyone who felt let down when the early '70s promise for a truly creative, genre-busting fusion of jazz and rock swiftly disappeared in a wave of vapid, show biz values and disco frippery.
On Lady Coryell, the 25-year-old Larry Coryell already possessed a virtuoso's technique and a rich harmonic and melodic imagination. He uses these gifts here to build swirling, multi-tracked, oftentimes intensely psychedelic performances that range seamlessly across the jazz and rock landscape. The most important tracks are "Treats Style" and "Stiff Neck." On the former, the guitarist is teamed with jazz masters Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) in a power trio of cool swagger and screaming blues. "Stiff Neck"is a furious duet between Jones and the guitarist. Coryell begins in a driving, post-bop vein, segues to a raw, acid blues and then out into a splintered, barrage of power chords and feedback.Jones navigates the way ahead, countering Coryell's audacity with controlled fury and an assured, muscular pulse. On the rest of the session, Bob Moses, a bandmate from the guitarist's first recordings, takes the drum chair, while Coryell overdubs the bass parts. Together they calmly probe the shifting sections and layers of the title track before transforming a Junior Walker R&B shuffle, "Cleo's Mood," into a mind-bending, rave-up. Even Coryell's hoarse-throated singing is effective. On "Sunday Telephone," -- over a maelstrom of phased, fuzzed, and wah-wahed guitars -- he yowls dementedly, "One more dime operator, can't you see it's Dr. Strange on the line." The album's only lapse is the country corn of "Love Child Is Coming Home," where Coryell tries to transcend one genre too many.