Larry Coryell: A Retrospective

Jim Santella By

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Larry Coryell
A Retrospective

This two-DVD set complements Improvising: My Life In Music, guitarist Larry Coryell's 2007 autobiography from Backbeat Books. Filmed in concert at Hollywood's The Avalon in October 2005, the focus is on Coryell's blues-laden impressions of jazz and rock.

Coryell grew up in the Seattle area and became heavily involved with drugs while attending the University of Washington. He moved to New York in 1965 and took his habit with him. His music didn't audibly suffer for it, as Coryell carved a legendary place for himself in the nascent fusion and jazz-rock arenas. He battled his substance abuse and since the '80s has managed a successful career.

A family affair, the film features Coryell's guitar and singing with the capable support of drummer Bernard "Pretty Purdie and bassist John Hart. Backup singer Tracey Piergross, Coryell's wife, and guitarist/pianist Julian Coryell, his youngest son, contribute superbly on a few numbers. Less successful are Coryell's vocals, which except for "Slow Blues are forced and gritty and mixed too far back. Fortunately, the DVD is primarily a showcase for Coryell's fiery guitar. In this, it doesn't disappoint. The material functions as a Best Of, with many tunes coming from earlier albums like Spaces, Fairyland and Lady Coryell as well as more recent discs like Tricycles.

Coryell decided early on to marry jazz and rock with the blues to reach a wide audience. That formula is a successful one throughout the performances contained on this DVD, flying fingers driving home the notion that jazz benefits from rock's power and passion. Over 60 now and officially a senior citizen, Coryell still plays with the fire that moved him in the '60s.

Tracks: Introduction; After Later; Souls Meeting; Souls Dirge; Hidalgo Rehearsal; Slow Blues; Half a Heart; Valentine Rehearsal; Beautiful Woman; Stiff Neck; Morning Sickness; Beyond This Chilling Winds; Spaces (Infinite); Dragon Gate.

Personnel: Larry Coryell: guitar, vocals; Julian Coryell: guitar, electric piano; John Hart: bass guitar, electric bass; Bernard "Pretty Purdie: drums; Tracey Piergross: background vocals, tambourine; Winston Byrd: trumpet (14); David Hidalgo: guitar (5, 6, 7); James Valentine: guitar (8, 9).

Production Notes: Approximately 180 minutes. Extras: Rehearsal footage, Interviews, Commentary, Additional songs.

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