269

Larry Coryell: Cedars of Avalon

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Spanning more genres than most of the guitarists his age, Larry Coryell was there when fusion was making its first appearance. Although largely unacknowledged, Gary Burton’s early RCA sides found Coryell playing with an edgy rock-inflected tone that was just as responsible for a new era in jazz as such commonly cited fusion classics like Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. The guitarist’s own Eleventh House band would also challenge John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, with the latter getting much of the press at the time. However, most recently its been a mainstream stance which has marked Coryell’s appearance on Joe Fields’ HighNote label, the best of these being the newly issued Cedars of Avalon.

Recorded in full 24-bit splendor by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder, the first thing you’ll notice about this latest offering from Coryell is an almost tube-like warmness to the sound that is the antithesis of modern digital technology. Coryell’s guitar is presented in burnished tones that blend ever so splendidly with pianist Cedar Walton’s crystalline middle and upper registers. Buster Williams’ bass has just enough bottom edge presence to buoy the entire ensemble, but without being a bit muddy. It’s only drummer Billy Drummond who seems to be a bit low in the mix, but that’s only in comparison to his Criss Cross appearances where he’s given such a forward presentation.

With a sagacious tune selection, Coryell brings the tempos up and down in similar fashion to building a good live set. His title track and opening homage to Cedar Walton has a nice lilting feel to it and everyone seems to be equally comfortable in navigating its tricky turns. Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” kicks in with a crafty opening vamp, later to be distinguished by Coryell’s use of octaves, the Montgomery inspiration evident again in a rendition of Wes’ “D Natural Blues.” Walton’s own “Fantasy in D” reminds us of the pianist’s value as a composer and “Theme For Ernie” (mistakenly listed as “Ermie” on both the back cover and disc) gives Coryell room to stretch out at a ballad tempo.

Two tracks, “Limehouse Blues” and “Shapes,” find Coryell over-dubbing acoustic guitars and Van Gelder’s artfully etched sound works wonders for these mini masterpieces. Two more standards and Walton’s “Newest Blues” round out this most enjoyable mainstream set that might surprise some Coryell fanatics but which will easily please all.


Track Listing: Cedars Of Avalon, Bemsha Swing, Fantasy In D, Blues For Ernie, Limehouse Blues, D-Natural Blues, What's New, Newest Blues, It Could Happen To You, Shapes

Personnel: Larry Coyell (guitar), Cedar Walton (piano), Buster Williams (bass), Billy Drummond (drums)

Title: Cedars of Avalon | Year Released: 2002


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "New Jazz Standards, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review New Jazz Standards, Volume 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "A Secret Sigh" CD/LP/Track Review A Secret Sigh
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Nerve Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read "Compass" CD/LP/Track Review Compass
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.