Larry Coryell's latest disc Tricycles
out June 16th is a satisfying set of fairly straight-ahead jazz. Recorded with bassist Mark Egan and drummer Paul Wertico, the trio plays together with such empathy that there's no question that you are hearing a working band and not a one-off studio creation. Just over half of the tunes are Coryell originals, the balance consisting of Egan's titular composition, a group improvisation, two by Monk and a solo guitar arrangement of Lennon & McCartney's "She's Leaving Home" that works really well.
Coryell has done many things on the guitar in his long career. One of the first to bring a rock sensibility and rock guitar technology to jazz, he's also distinguished himself as an acoustic guitarist. This album finds him playing electric guitar, for the most part, but with very minimal processing. Coryell plays with a clean tone throughout, and what effects he does use--perhaps by an octave pedal on the bop head of "Immer Geradeaus" and maybe a chorus on "Good Citizen Swallow" and so on--serve more to underscore than obfuscate that clarity. There are some fusion-like elements in the rhythm section, Egan's use of fretless electric bass and the at times driving drums of Wertico, his polyrhythmic approach and use of bass and toms on pieces like "Dragon Gate" and "Spaces Revisited" owing something to players like Bill Bruford & Billy Cobham.
The two Monk pieces come off very well. "'Round Midnight" is handled tenderly, Coryell's lyric soloing followed by a brief bossa nova section that gives way to a proper ballad denouement, and "Well You Needn't" swings nicely in the quirky way that Thelonious Monk compositions do. The collectively improvised "Three Way Split" is interesting, Coryell's disjointed playing at the beginning suggesting James "Blood" Ulmer and coming in at all but perfect 3:43. Coryell's acoustic, madrigal-like arrangement of the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home" is luminously beautiful and ends the track on a suitably bittersweet note. Larry Coryell's playing is somewhat stripped-down on his new disc Tricycles
, but it is still state of the art jazz guitar.