As one of the pioneers of jazz-rock -- perhaps the pioneer in the ears of some -- Larry Coryell deserves a special place in the history books. He brought what amounted to a nearly alien sensibility to jazz electric guitar playing in the 1960s, a hard-edged, cutting tone, phrasing and note-bending that owed as much to blues, rock and even country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences. Yet as a true eclectic, armed with a brilliant technique, he is comfortable in almost every style, covering almost every base from the most decibel-heavy, distortion-laden electric work to the most delicate, soothing, intricate lines on acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, a lot of his most crucial electric work from the '60s and '70s is missing on CD, tied up by the erratic reissue schemes of Vanguard, RCA and other labels, and by jazz-rock's myopically low level of status in the CD era (although that mindset is slowly changing).
Born in Galveston, Texas on April 2, 1943 Coryell grew up in the Seattle, Washington area where his mother introduced him to the piano at the tender age of 4. He switched to guitar and played rock music while in his teens. He didn't consider himself good enough to pursue a music career and studied journalism at The University of Washington while simultaneously taking private guitar lessons. By 1965 he had relocated to New York City and began taking classical guitar lessons, which would figure, prominently in later stages of his career. Although citing Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry as early influences he also took cues from jazzmen such as John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery. He was also inspired by the popular music of the day by the Beatles, The Byrds and Bob Dylan and worked diligently to meld both rock and jazz stylings into his technique.
This was reflected on his debut recording performance on drummer Chico Hamilton's album "The Dealer" where he sounded like chuck Berry at times with his almost distorted "fat" tone. Also in 1966 he formed a psychedelic band called The Free Spirits on which he also sang vocals, played the sitar and did most of the composing. Although conceptually the band's music conformed to the psychedelic formula with titles like "Bad News Cat"and"I'm Gonna Be Free"it foreshadowed jazz rock with more complex soloing by Coryell and Sax/flute player Jim Pepper.
However, it wasn't until three years later after apprenticing on albums by Vibraphonist Gary Burton and flutist Herbie Mann and gigging with the likes of Jack Bruce and others that Coryell established his multifarious musical voice, releasing two solo albums which mixed jazz, classical and rock ingredients. In late 1969 he recorded "Spaces", the album for which he is most noted. It was a guitar blowout which also included John McLaughlin who was also sitting on the fence between rock and jazz at the time and the cogitative result formed what many aficionados consider to be the embryo from which the fusion jazz movement of the 1970s emerged. It contained insane tempos and fiery guitar exchanges which were often beyond category not to mention some innovating acoustic bass work by Miroslav Vitous and power drumming by Billy Cobham both of whom were to make contributions to Jazz rock throughout the `70s.
His career, however, began in era of guitar rock, where he was able to rise for a time with legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Eric Clapton.
Larry Coryell discusses and illustrates scales, modes, finger exercises, improvisation and chords. For the intermediate to advanced student.
Lesson One: The C scale and its ramifications. Aspects of fingering the C scale and variations. Modes: Ionian, Dorian, Phyrgian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Lucrian. Transposing of modes. Intervals and positioning of chords.
Lesson Two: Artificial and real harmonics. Lenny Breau's ripple effect. Chromatic scale played with artificial harmonics to develop control. Fingering exercises to strengthen the left as well as right hands are presented. The 2-4-1-4 Excercise; Japanese Gratitude Exercise; 7/4 diminished exercise descending in whole steps.
Lesson Three: Discussion of minor thirds. 1+2 Scale (a more sophisticated expression of the diminished scale). The melody, structure and improvisation potential of the original composition 1+2 Blues. Further explorations in modes.
Level 3 • 24 page tab/music book with three compact discs
Review: Great Book. Like many guitarists I have always admired Larry's work, so when I saw this book in a store I looked through it and bought it on the spot. I had always been into his fusion music and frankly didn't realize his jazz stuff was so strong. The first three tunes are walking bass jazz/blues tunes – the first is pure walking bass with chords, the second is based on the first but interspersed with some extended single note solo phrases. The third is based on the same chord progression as the first two but uses chord solo phrases in “traditional big band styling.” This is fun stuff!!!! I have been working on these first three tunes for the last several months and have them almost completely memorized – not a simple task – and I haven't had this much fun playing guitar in a long time. After listening to the CD a number of times I also skipped ahead to learn a great bossa tune from Larry's Live in Bahia album. This book has definitely challenged and inspired me to pick up the guitar and get some practice in almost every day. The more you play these tunes the more you get out of them from an analysis standpoint. Also, I didn't know he has a signature jazz guitar out made by Cort but after listening to the CD I would certainly like to try one out.
When I saw a couple negative reviews here I felt that I had to put my proverbial two cents in and let people know that there is some great stuff in this book. This book is not for beginners or the meek and is not a collection of II V I riffs. As Larry states in the intro, “You should have a working knowledge of theory, at least some theory (that's all I have), and I'll assume you know some jazz chords and the fundamental major, minor, augmented (whole tone) and diminished scales and arpeggios.” The material covered here is sometimes easy, but some of it gets involved and there are some examples/exercises I hope will challenge you and open you up to play things maybe you didn't think you could play. That's how I felt when I first heard jazz players make this amazing music on their guitars – I had no idea how it was done, but I had to try to learn it.
There is some fun and pretty intense stuff in this book and it will keep me challenged for quite a while. I have paid more than the price of this book for a one hour lesson and gotten so much out of this book already that it's incredible. Be ready to put some time in but if you like Larry's playing and you've got the right attitude you can have a lot of fun and learn a lot with this book. – A Customer/Amazon Customer Review
Review: More pearls from an accomplished master. Larry Coryell is one of the most gifted guitarists alive. Throughout his career he has shared his thoughts and ideas on his playing and his approach to solving problems or issues particular to jazz interpretation and improvising that he was dealing with. I don't think his contributions to the educational world are for beginners. This book is for an intermediate to advanced player. Providing you have some experience and knowledge under your belt, Larry's tips are fantastic and above all useable right away in your playing. I've admired his work for 25 years and this offering is another great piece of work, added to many others that Larry has produced. His acoustic albums Standing Ovation and European Impressions (which I think is partially available on the Tributaries CD) are seminal works for me and even after twenty years bear repeated listening for more amazing things created by this master. – Ronald S. Thompson/Amazon Customer Review