Larry Coryell – The Virtuoso Guitar of Larry Coryell – Prime Picks – HighNote Records HCD7211, 57:19 ****:
(Larry Coryell, guitars; John Hicks, Ronnie Mathews piano; Santi Deloriano, Buster Williams, Larry Gray, bass; Yaron Israel, Paul Wertico, drums; Mark Sherman, vibes; Shunzo Ono, trumpet.)
In a career that has spanned over 40 years, Larry Coryell has continued his musical evolution. After bursting on the New York scene as a featured player for Chico Hamilton, Gary Burton and Herbie Mann, to name but a few, he has recorded over 60 albums. He is comfortable in nearly all jazz formats, bringing impeccable technique to his playing.
On “Prime Picks”, Coryell plays an assortment of guitars, integrated in different and refreshing combos. On “Inner Urge” and “Star Eyes” his interplay with piano, bass and drums is ideal, whether he is playing rhythm for the piano solos, or improvising on the melody. A highlight is the original composition by vibist Mark Sherman, “Spiral Staircase”, that is elevated by Sherman’s and Coryell’s solos. The incorporation of trumpet into the group on “Compulsion”, deftly offers a tandem lead with the guitar, with a hammering piano solo.
At the core of this CD is the tone and dexterity of the guitar work. The delicate picking and inventive chord changes transform the Beatles classic, “Something” into a jazzy mood piece A simple, yet inspired version of Wes Montgomery”s “Bumpin’ On Sunset,” begins with a rhythmic guitar opening, building on the original groove of the composition until the song explodes in an incendiary solo. There is an overdubbed solo number, “Limehouse Blues”, recalling his earlier work with John McLaughlin, and a shuffling acoustic blues opus, “Tonk”, that has a soulful feel.
Fittingly, the final track, “Good Citizen Swallow”, is punctuated by a series of rousing cascading runs that demonstrates how intensity and energy can be generated by a musician in his 60s.
TrackList: Inner Urge; Spiral Staircase; Something; Compulsion; Star Eyes; Limehouse Blues; New High; Bumpin’ On Sunset; Tonk; Good Citizen Swallow.
— Robbie Gerson