ACT Music released this exceptional concert recording four years to the day after the February 19, 2017 death of 73-year old master guitarist Larry Coryell. The album documents a sensational set Coryell played with the equally skillful Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine at the Berlin Philharmonic. The event was an unplanned but fitting conclusion to their series of collaborations that began at the same location some forty-five years before. The sound dynamics and song selections create a vivid testimonial of musical composition and execution at the highest level.
Coryell passed away in New York less than a month after the Berlin show, and whether or not he ever heard the tapes we are not told. Coryell and Catherine initially played together in 1976, which led to a pair of subsequent albums, and further fruition on projects involving Charles Mingus and Stephane Grappelli. Four duets feature the guitarists as a team. A pair of songs from the duo's first album,Twin House (Electra, 1977,) open the record. Coryell's "Miss Julie" can inspire either whimsical passion or lingering heartache, depending on listening conditions, and it's probably the top cut on this collection of standout selections. Catherine's "Homecomings" follows, a sweetly complex ballad featuring distinctly separate themes that progress along parallel pathways.
"Manha de Carnaval," an epic by Luiz Bonfa and Antonio Maria from the 1959 film Black Orpheus has been credited with spreading the word on samba and bossa nova throughout the world. The guitarists remain respectful of tradition while adding some nice personalized touches. Coryell's "Jemin- Eye'n" skips along with a superb, uplifting lightness of being. Considering the poignancy of soon to be circumstance, the song suggests a satisfied farewell.
Excellent guest stars add lustre. Coryell and bassist Lars Danielsson offer a shape-shifting version of Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" that includes multiple snippet samples of other classic compositions. Pianist Jan Lundgren pairs up with Catherine for a take on "Embraceable You" that followers of George Gershwin can gladly hold on to, and trumpeter Paolo Fresu joins all four musicians for a fine, fully realized finale on Oscar Peterson's "Green Dolphin Street." Klaus Scheuermann, who recorded, mixed and mastered the album deserves a standing ovation himself for preserving wonderfully clear tones that resonate with power and emotion throughout. Bravo to everyone involved here, Coryell probably couldn't ask for a finer testimonial to his legacy.
Ms. Julie; Homecomings; Manha de Carnaval; Jemin-Eye'n; Embraceable You; Bags' Groove; Green Dolphin
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