Larry Coryell

Monk, 'Trane, Miles & Me

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This recording properly acknowledges Coryell's main influences, swings nicely, delves into his under-appreciated mellow side, and reaffirms his status as an enduring jazz guitarist who still has plenty to say. Gone are the flash and the kamikaze riffs in favor of lean chords and structured, sensible, slightly gritty linear improvisations. Tributes to his heroes fall along standard company lines. Still, there's a lingering trace of the steely, hair-trigger old days of fusion in his interpretation of Thelonious Monk's spastic "Trinkle Tinkle" with tenor saxophonist Willie Williams. For contrast is the warm, spiritual blanket of John Coltrane's "Naima" and the forthright reading of the 12-bar blues "Up 'Gainst the Wall" featuring Williams. The elongated lines of Miles Davis's "All Blues" almost lull you into a false sense of security, so beautifully subtle, understated and cool are they. Coryell always chooses extraordinary sidemen, and when you pick pianist John Hicks (on four cuts, including the gorgeous "Naima") bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Yoron Israel, you've got a winning team. It's also great that Coryell introduces new material, like the soulful, swinging "Fairfield County Blues," Hicks and Coryell in complete accord, with a tip of the chordal-and-single-line-combo hat to Wes Montgomery. "Almost a Waltz," also written by the leader, is molasses slow, in 4/4, and a calm ending to this fulfilling disc. Coryell's virtuosity is evident; harnessed, and sounding better than ever, utilizing a prototype Cort LCS-1 model he designed. Several recent efforts can also be easily recommended, but this finely crafted recording ranks with any of his many better-to-best dates.

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