Larry Coryell

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Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell 2009, at "Jazz im Palmengarten", Frankfurt am Main
Background information
Born (1943-04-02) April 2, 1943 (age 73)
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
Origin New York City
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, post-bop, free jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1965–present
Labels Vanguard, Arista, Novus, Muse, Shanachie, Chesky, Wide Hive
Associated acts The Free Spirits, The Eleventh House, Gary Burton, Foreplay, The Guitar Trio, Philip Catherine

Larry Coryell (born April 2, 1943) is an American jazz guitarist known as the "Godfather of Fusion".[1]


Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas. He graduated from Richland High School, in Richland, Washington,[citation needed] where he played in local bands the Jailers, the Rumblers, the Royals, and the Flames. He also played with the Checkers from nearby Yakima, Washington. He then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.[citation needed] He played in a number of popular Northwest bands, including the Dynamics, while living in Seattle.

In September 1965, Coryell moved to New York City where he became part of Chico Hamilton's quintet, replacing Gabor Szabo. In 1967 and 1968, he recorded with Gary Burton. Also during the mid-1960s he played with the Free Spirits,[2] his first recorded band. His music during the late-1960s and early-1970s combined the influences of rock, jazz, and eastern music. He married writer-actress Julie Nathanson[3] before the release of his first solo album, Lady Coryell, which like Coryell, At the Village Gate, and, The Lion and the Ram featured her photos on the cover (there is a 'ghost' nude of her descending a staircase on the Aspects album cover). Julie's poetry was featured on the back cover of Ram. She was an important part[4] of his career, as inspiration, management, and appearance at recording sessions. She wrote a book based on interviews with jazz-rock musicians, including Chick Corea, and John McLaughlin.

In the early 1970s, he led a group called Foreplay with Mike Mandel, a childhood friend,[5][6] although the albums of this period—Barefoot Boy, Offering, and The Real Great Escape—were credited only to "Larry Coryell." He formed the group The Eleventh House in 1973. The album sold well in college towns and the ensemble toured widely. Several of the group's albums featured drummer Alphonse Mouzon.

Following the breakup of this band, Coryell played mainly acoustic guitar but returned to electric guitar later in the 1970s. He released an album credited with Mouzon and an album with the Brubeck Brothers that was recorded direct-to-disc, a new recording method at the time. He made several acoustic duet albums, two with Belgian guitarist (and former Focus member) Philip Catherine. Their album Twin House (1977), which contained the song "Miss Julie", drew favorable reviews.[citation needed]

In 1979, Coryell formed The Guitar Trio with fusion guitarist John McLaughlin and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia. The group toured Europe and released a video recorded at Royal Albert Hall in London entitled Meeting of Spirits. In early 1980, Coryell's drug addiction led to him being replaced by Al Di Meola.[7] Julie Coryell sang on one track of Comin' Home (1984). The couple divorced in 1985. She died in 2009.[8][9] Coryell recorded an album with (and was briefly romantically involved with)[10] Emily Remler before her death from a heroin overdose while on tour in Australia.

In 2007, Coryell published an autobiography titled Improvising: My Life in Music. His two sons, Julian Coryell and Murali Coryell, are also involved in the music business.

Media reactions[edit]

David Miller, a jazz critic from All About Jazz, in his review of Coryell concert at the Iridium, said:

  • "This was jazz at its finest—complex and virtuosic yet easily accessible, at times intense, at others fun-filled, and always with the feeling of the unknown that comes with truly spontaneous and inspired improvisation. While the music was steeped in the bop tradition, the musicians continually found new ways to utilize the idiom. Few locations other than New York could host a powerhouse gathering of musical heavyweights of this order, and one can only hope that the shows have been recorded for a future release."[11]

When NPR radio host Billy Taylor, on one of the editions of Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center, introduced Coryell, he said:

  • Versatile virtuoso guitarist Larry Coryell proves to be more than an outstanding musician; he's also a particularly enlightening and affable conversationalist.[12]


As leader[edit]

With The Eleventh House

As sideman[edit]

With The Appletree Theatre (John & Terry Boylan)

  • Playback (Verve, 1967)

With Jim Pepper

  • Pepper's Pow Wow (Embryo, 1971)

With Gary Burton

With the Jazz Composer's Orchestra

With Wolfgang Dauner

  • Knirsch (1972)

With The 5th Dimension

With The Free Spirits

  • Out of Sight and Sound (1967)

With Chico Hamilton

With Arnie Lawrence

  • Look Toward a Dream (1969)

With Herbie Mann

With Michael Mantler

  • Movies (1977)
  • With Steve Marcus
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (1968)
  • Count's Rock Band (1968)
  • The Lord's Prayer (1969)

With Charles Mingus

With Bob Moses

  • Love Animal (1967–68)

With Chico O'Farrill

With The Arista All Stars

  • Blue Montreux (1978)

With Simon & Bard Group

With Joey DeFrancesco

  • Wonderful, Wonderful (2012)

With Dennis Haklar

  • Lizard's Tale (2012)

With Michael Mantler

  • Movies (1977)

With The Fusion Syndicate

  • The Fusion Syndicate (2012)

With The Wide Hive Players

  • Players II Guitar (2010)
  • Larry Coryell with The Wide Hive Players (2011)[14]

With Dylan Taylor

  • One In Mind (2016)


  • L. Subramaniam Violin From the Heart (1999) – directed by Jean Henri Meunier (includes a scene of Coryell performing with L. Subramaniam)
  • Meeting of the Spirits /1979 (2003) – live performance in London with Coryell, John McLaughlin, and Paco de Lucia
  • Super Guitar Trio and Friends in Concert /1990 (2005) – live performance featuring Coryell, Al Di Meola, and Biréli Lagrène
  • Super Guitar Trio: Live in Montreux /1989 (2007) – Live performance featuring Coryell, Al Di Meola, and Biréli Lagrène
  • Three Guitars: Paris Concert /2004 (2012) – live performance featuring Coryell, Badi Assad, and John Abercrombie


  1. ^ Richard S. Ginell (1943-04-02). "Larry Coryell | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  2. ^ Unterberger 1998, pg. 329
  3. ^ Durkee, Cutler. "Jazz and Rock Are An Explosive Combination: So Are Guitarist Larry Coryell and Wife Julie". Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  4. ^ Howard Mandel. "Julie Coryell, jazz author, manager, muse". Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  5. ^ Larry Coryell, Improvising: My Life in Music, Hal Leonard Corp, New York, 2007, p.89
  6. ^ "Larry Coryell SUNY New Paltz New Paltz, NY Mar 17, 1973". 1973-03-17. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  7. ^ "Larry Coryell Power Trio". by Mike Riggs March 19, 2009 at the Blues Alley, Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  8. ^ "Jazz Historian Julie Coryell Passes On at 61 | The Jazz Legacy of Jim Pepper: An American Original". Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Larry Coryell, Improvising: My Life in Music, Hal Leonard Corp, New York, 2007, p.127
  11. ^ "Larry Coryell Live at the Iridium". Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  12. ^ "Larry Coryell Live at the Kennedy Center". Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  13. ^ Arista Records, Novus Label AN3017, 1979
  14. ^ "Larry Coryell Discography at Discogs". 1943-04-02. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 

External links[edit]