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Tricycles by Larry Coryell

Larry Coryell and his companions come out of the gate, swinging on his latest release, Tricycles.

Accompanied by Paul Wertico on drums and Mark Egan on bass, the Galveston, Texas, native is in classic form on this outing.

Universally acknowledged as one of the true pioneers of fusion music - a bona fide guitar hero who comfortably straddled the jazz-rock divide - Coryell is and has always been a jazz player at heart.

While his early envelope-pushing experiments have been well documented, Coryell, 61, has been primarily involved in playing straight-ahead jazz for the past 20 years.A disciple of Wes Montgomery who was also steeped in the swinging jazz guitar tradition of Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessel, Coryell got seduced by the spirit of experimentation that was swept in with the Beatles, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Speaking of swinging, Coryell and Co. do just that with the opening number, Immer Geradeaus. The trio then goes in a different direction with their rendition of the mysterious Dragon Gate, which was previously recorded as the title song to Coryell’s 1989 album. The song is based on Wayne Shorter’s Footprints, and it showcases some creative exchanges between Coryell and Wertico, who also erupts into a flurry at the tag.

Good Citizen Swallow (originally recorded on the Gary Burton Quartet’s Lofty Flake Anagram from 1967 and reprised on Coryell’s 1984 album, Comin’ Home) is a classic example of the guitarist deftly placing one foot in the more guttural rock camp while striding confidentially into the jazz camp with the other. Wertico and Egan respond accordingly, with flexible playing that summons up both rock intensity and jazz syncopation. Egan also delivers a stunning fretless bass solo, evoking images of Jaco Pastorius.

Stable Fantasy features Coryell as he demonstrates his dazzling, bop-style soloing. That is followed by Spaces Revisited, the title track of Coryell’s 1997 album. It opens with a dynamic extended drum intro from Wertico before resolving to the familiar chops-busting theme. Egan and Wertico are totally in-synch as Coryell launches his edgiest, most adventurous solo of the session. And Wertico again brings out the rock in him with a thunderous solo.

The trio then delivers a somewhat subdued, yet powerful interpretation of Round Midnight. The album also includes Three Way Split, a spontaneous jam in the studio that results in some particularly provocative moments; Thelonius Monk’s Well You Needn’t; and the intimate closer, an acoustic solo rendition of the Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home.

Throughout Tricycles, Coryell, Wertico and Egan deliver passionate straight jazz, skillfully blended with their rock-fusion tendencies. Coryell is right at the top of his game, with Wertico and Egan providing the assist.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Larry Coryell
  • CD Title: Tricycles
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Favored Nations Cool
  • Rating: Four Stars
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