His com­po­si­tions were alive with vi­tal­ity and his im­pro­vi­sa­tions bris­tled with mu­si­cal­ity. John Wheatcroft pays tribute to Larry Co­ryell.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

John Wheatcroft with an­other tribute, this time to the much missed fu­sion gi­ant, Larry Co­ryell.

We were sad­dened to hear of the re­cent pass­ing of Amer­i­can jazz gui­tarist Larry Co­ryell. Larry had a glit­ter­ing ca­reer through­out his 73 years, tour­ing and record­ing with play­ers as di­verse as Stéphane Grap­pelli, Chet Baker, Charles Min­gus, Gary Bur­ton and many more. He fea­tured in a se­lec­tion of suc­cess­ful gui­tar duos and trios, record­ing straight-ahead jazz with Emily Rem­ler, acous­tic cross­over with Paco Di Lu­cia and John McLaugh­lin and in a Latin in­spired trio with Biréli La­grene and Al Di Me­ola. For many, how­ever, Larry was the ‘god­fa­ther of fu­sion’, pi­o­neer­ing a mix of jazz and rock with his group, The Eleventh House.

As you might imag­ine with a player who’s discog­ra­phy in­cludes a solo ren­di­tion of Stravin­sky’s Rite Of Spring right next to an al­bum de­voted to pi­anist Bill Evans, and an­other en­ti­tled Bolero, Co­ryell’s in­ter­ests were vast and var­ied. His play­ing had vi­tal­ity, in­tel­li­gence and beauty and his com­po­si­tions and im­pro­vi­sa­tions were bristling with mu­si­cal­ity. There was a sense of au­then­tic­ity to ev­ery­thing he played and he will be sorely missed by the jazz com­mu­nity.

While Larry sounded great in ev­ery en­sem­ble, he was par­tic­u­larly at home in the com­pany of other gui­tarists and it is from these set­tings, duo and trios, that we’ve de­rived this month’s ex­am­ples.

Co­ryell pos­sessed con­sid­er­able pick­ing tech­nique, gen­er­ally choos­ing al­ter­nate pick­ing, switch­ing to sweeps across mul­ti­ple strings when ap­pro­pri­ate. Some of these are quite fast, so break the longer phrases down into smaller chunks and build up the com­plete lines over time. The first three ex­am­ples are based around his duo record­ings with Emily Rem­ler; the next three from Larry’s acous­tic

We Were dead set on not copy­ing our jazz heroes, be­cause We felt the best Way to hon­our them Was to de­velop our oWn voices Larry Co­ryell play­ing from Meet­ing Of The Spir­its; the fi­nal two orig­i­nate ffrom the Su­per Gui­tar Trio, with Al Di Me­ola and Biréli La­grene.

Larry was com­pletely com­fort­able with si­lence, and much of his most bom­bas­tic, full-on vo­cab­u­lary is bal­anced with mo­ments of true calm. These points of punc­tu­a­tion re­ally help to de­lin­eate your ideas and gui­tar play­ers can of­ten un­der­use rests as a valid and ef­fec­tive mu­si­cal de­vice when im­pro­vis­ing. Re­mem­ber that in mu­sic, the rests are just as im­por­tant as the notes you play, so use them and, like Larry, use them well.

Larry Co­ryell in full jazz mode with Su­per 400

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