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Larry Coryell

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Larry Coryell
Coryell in 1979
Coryell in 1979
Background information
Birth nameLorenz Albert Van DeLinder III
Born(1943-04-02)April 2, 1943
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 19, 2017(2017-02-19) (aged 73)
New York City, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, free jazz, pop, rock, classical
Years active1965–2017
LabelsVanguard, Arista, Novus, Muse, Shanachie, Chesky, Wide Hive, Patuxent

Larry Coryell (born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III; April 2, 1943[1] – February 19, 2017)[2] was an American jazz guitarist.

Early life[edit]

Larry Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas, United States.[1] He never knew his biological father, a musician. He was raised by his stepfather Gene, a chemical engineer, and his mother Cora, who encouraged him to learn piano when he was four years old.[3]

In his teens, he switched to guitar. After his family moved to Richland, Washington, he took lessons from a teacher who lent him albums by Les Paul, Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel, and Tal Farlow. When asked what jazz guitar albums influenced him, Coryell cited On View at the Five Spot Cafe by Kenny Burrell, Red Norvo with Strings, and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. He liked blues and pop music and tried to play jazz when he was eighteen. He said that hearing Wes Montgomery changed his life.[4]

Coryell graduated from Richland High School, where he played in local bands the Jailers, the Rumblers, the Royals, and the Flames. He also played with the Checkers from Yakima. He then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.[2]


Coryell at Jazz im Palmengarten, Frankfurt am Main, 2009

In September 1965, Coryell moved to New York City, where he attended Mannes School of Music.[5] After moving to New York, he listened to classical composers such as Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich.[4]

He replaced guitarist Gábor Szabó in Chico Hamilton's quintet.[1] In 1967–68, he recorded with Gary Burton. During the mid-1960s he played with the Free Spirits,[6] his first recorded band. His music during the late-1960s and early-1970s combined rock, jazz, and eastern music, including an appearance as a guest musician on the 1969 psychedelic rock album by the Head Shop.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, he led the group Foreplay with Mike Mandel, a friend since childhood,[7] although the albums of this period, Barefoot Boy, Offering, and The Real Great Escape, were credited only to Larry Coryell. He formed The Eleventh House in 1973.[1] Several of the group's albums included drummer Alphonse Mouzon.

He recorded two guitar duet albums with Philip Catherine. In 1979, he formed The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia.[1] The group toured Europe briefly, releasing a video recorded at Royal Albert Hall in London entitled Meeting of the Spirits. In early 1980, Coryell's drug addiction led to his being replaced by Al Di Meola.[8] In 1985, he recorded Together with fellow guitarist Emily Remler, who died in 1990. Starting in 2010, Coryell toured with a trio that included pianist John Colianni. Since 2008, Coryell toured in a duo with fusion guitarist Roman Miroshnichenko.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Coryell was first married to writer-actress Julie Nathanson (1947–2009), daughter of actress Carol Bruce.[10] She appeared on the covers of several of his albums (including Lady Coryell, Larry Coryell at the Village Gate and The Lion and the Ram) and later wrote the book Jazz-Rock Fusion, which was based on interviews with many of Coryell's peers, including Chick Corea and John McLaughlin.[11] She also sang intermittently with Coryell, including one track on the 1984 album Comin' Home. The couple had two sons (Murali Coryell (b. 1969) and Julian Coryell (b. 1973), both professional guitarists, before divorcing in 1985.[12] Thereafter, he had a brief romance with fellow jazz guitarist and artistic collaborator Emily Remler.[13]

In 1988, he remarried to Connecticut native Mary Schuler; they divorced in 2005. Two years later, he married his last wife, Tracey Lynn Piergross, in Orlando, Florida, where he resided until his death in 2017.

After overcoming his alcohol and heroin addictions in 1981, Coryell began practicing Nichiren Buddhism.[14]

In November 2016, Coryell condemned Donald Trump following his election to the presidency of the United States. "This is an unacceptable situation", he said to Bill Milkowski of DownBeat. "We cannot let all the work we've done as jazz musicians to help relationships between people … we can't let all that go to hell. And that's what this election is going to do. It'll take us back to the Dark Ages and people will think that it’s OK to be prejudiced again. Well, I don't accept it. We have to stand up. … [Trump is] an impostor, a huckster, and he's got to go. And because I'm a Buddhist I'm going to chant about it and try to turn poison into medicine, and just get deeper and deeper into my music."[15]

Shortly after these comments were published, Coryell wrote to Downbeat to apologize and retract: "I am no longer angry about the election; I accept it. I have musician friends who did not vote my way. I have no place implying, as I did in the article, that their votes were insincere or illegitimate... Also—and this is very important—I believe that I have a responsibility to transcend politics, focusing instead on finding ways to touch people’s hearts through music. I never want to forget all the great players who mentored me in the art of demonstrating restraint regarding hot-button issues; these men and women advised me to exercise discretion, and to behave with exemplary humanity. ...My comments did nothing to further the cause of our music. I apologize."[16]


Coryell died of heart failure on Sunday, February 19, 2017, in a New York City hotel room at the age of 73. He had performed at the Iridium Jazz Club in Manhattan on the preceding two days.[2][17]

Coryell's last opera, based on Leo Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina, was presented at the 2017 World of Guitar opening, featuring the Moscow Symphony along with Roman Miroshnichenko, Serbian classical guitarist Nenad Stephanovich, and Slovenian opera soloists. The world premiere was dedicated to Coryell, the "godfather of fusion," who died in New York in February of that year. The opera was completed by Miroshnichenko and Stephanovich after the death of Coryell.[18]


As leader[edit]

  • Lady Coryell (Vanguard Apostolic, 1969)
  • Coryell (Vanguard Apostolic, 1969)
  • Spaces (Vanguard Apostolic, 1970)
  • Barefoot Boy (Flying Dutchman, 1971)
  • Fairyland (Mega, 1971)
  • Larry Coryell at the Village Gate (Vanguard, 1971)
  • Offering (Vanguard, 1972)
  • The Real Great Escape (Vanguard, 1973)
  • Introducing Eleventh House with Larry Coryell (Vanguard, 1974)
  • Level One (Arista, 1975)
  • Planet End (Vanguard, 1975)
  • The Restful Mind (Vanguard, 1975)
  • The Lion and the Ram (Arista, 1976)
  • Basics (Vanguard, 1976)
  • Aspects (Arista, 1976)
  • Back Together Again with Alphonse Mouzon (Atlantic, 1977)
  • Two for the Road with Steve Khan (Arista, 1977)
  • Twin House with Philip Catherine (Elektra, 1977)
  • At Montreux with Eleventh House (Vanguard, 1978)
  • European Impressions (Arista Novus 1978)
  • Better Than Live with the Brubeck Brothers (Direct-Disk Labs, 1978)
  • Standing Ovation: Solo (Mood, 1978)
  • Difference (Egg, 1978)
  • Splendid with Philip Catherine (Elektra, 1978)
  • Return (Vanguard, 1979)
  • Tributaries with John Scofield, Joe Beck (Arista Novus, 1979)
  • Live! with Philip Catherine, Joachim Kühn, (Elektra, 1980)
  • Boléro (String, 1981)
  • The Larry Coryell/Michael Urbaniak Duo (Keytone, 1982)
  • Scheherazade (Philips, 1982)
  • L'Oiseau de Feu, Petrouchka (Philips, 1983)
  • Le Sacre Du Printemps (Philips, 1983)
  • Facts of Life with Michał Urbaniak (SWS, 1983)
  • Just Like Being Born with Brian Keane (Flying Fish, 1984)
  • A Quiet Day in Spring with Michał Urbaniak (Steeplechase, 1984)
  • Comin' Home (Muse, 1984)
  • Together with Emily Remler (Concord Jazz, 1985)
  • Equipoise (Muse, 1986)
  • Dedicated to Bill Evans and Scott La Faro with Miroslav Vitous (Jazzpoint, 1987)
  • Toku Do (Muse, 1988)
  • Air Dancing (Jazzpoint, 1988)
  • Dragon Gate (Shanachie, 1989)
  • Visions in Blue: Coryell Plays Ravel & Gershwin (Little Major, 1989)
  • Shining Hour (Muse, 1989)
  • American Odyssey (DRG, 1990)
  • Don Lanphere/Larry Coryell (Hep, 1990)
  • Twelve Frets to One Octave (Shanachie, 1991)
  • Live from Bahia (CTI, 1992)
  • Fallen Angel (CTI, 1993)
  • I'll Be Over You (CTI, 1995)
  • Sketches of Coryell (Shanachie, 1996)
  • Spaces Revisited (Shanachie, 1997)
  • Private Concert (Acoutic Music Records, 1998)
  • Cause and Effect with Steve Smith, Tom Coster, (Tone Center, 1998)
  • Monk, Trane, Miles & Me (HighNote, 1999)
  • From the Ashes with L. Subramaniam (Water Lily Acoustics, 1999)
  • New High (HighNote, 2000)
  • The Coryells (Chesky, 2000)
  • The Power Trio Live in Chicago (Highnote, 2001)
  • Moonlight Whispers (Pastels, 2001)
  • Count's Jam Band Reunion with Steve Marcus, Steve Smith, Kai Eckhardt (Tone Center, 2001)
  • Inner Urge (HighNote, 2001)
  • Cedars of Avalon (HighNote, 2002)
  • Three Guitars with Badi Assad, John Abercrombie (Chesky, 2003)
  • Tricycles (In+Out, 2003)
  • Electric with Victor Bailey, Lenny White (Chesky, 2005)
  • Traffic with Victor Bailey, Lenny White (Chesky, 2006)
  • Laid Back & Blues (Rhombus, 2006)
  • Impressions: The New York Sessions (Chesky, 2008)
  • Earthquake at the Avalon (In-Akustik, 2009)
  • Larry Coryell with the Wide Hive Players (Wide Hive, 2011)
  • Montgomery (Patuxent Music, 2011)
  • Duality with Kenny Drew Jr. (Random Act, 2011)
  • The Lift (Wide Hive, 2013)
  • Heavy Feel (Wide Hive, 2015)
  • Barefoot Man: Sanpaku (Purple Pyramid, 2016)
  • Seven Secrets with Eleventh House (Savoy, 2016)
  • Last Swing with Ireland (Angel Air, 2021)
  • Live at the Sugar Club (Angel Air, 2022)

As member[edit]

The Free Spirits

Fuse One

  • Fuse One (CTI, 1980)
  • Ice (Electric Bird, 1984)

As sideman[edit]


  • 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 featuring 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


  • Coryell, Larry (2007). Improvising: My Life in Music. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-0879308261.


  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ a b c Keepnews, Peter (February 21, 2017). "Larry Coryell, Guitarist of Fusion Before It Had a Name, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  3. ^ Varga, George. "Jazz fusion guitarist Larry Coryell dies at 73". www.latimes.com. Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Barth, Joe (2006). Voices in Jazz Guitar. Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay. pp. 141–157. ISBN 0786676795.
  5. ^ "Goodbye…Larry Coryell, 1943-2017". Elmore Magazine. February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Unterberger 1998, p. 329
  7. ^ Coryell, Larry (2007). Improvising: My Life in Music. New York: Hal Leonard. p. 89.
  8. ^ Riggs, Mike (March 19, 2009). "Larry Coryell Power Tri o". Washington City Paper. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  9. ^ Roman Miroshnichenko On Tour With The Godfather Of Fusion
  10. ^ Durkee, Cutler (November 13, 1978). "Jazz and Rock Are An Explosive Combination: So Are Guitarist Larry Coryell and Wife Julie". People. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Mandel, Howard (May 17, 2009). "Julie Coryell, jazz author, manager, muse". Jazz Beyond Jazz. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Sisario, Ben (May 28, 2009). "Julie Coryell, Contributor to Jazz-Rock Fusion Scene, Dies at 61". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  13. ^ West, Michael J. "The Rise and Decline of Guitarist Emily Remler". Jazztimes.com. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  14. ^ "Larry Coryell - an improvised life". Canadianchristianity.com. March 2, 2008. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  15. ^ Milkowski, Bill (February 2017). "Remembering Larry Coryell". DownBeat. Retrieved July 27, 2023.
  16. ^ "DownBeat Archives". Downbeat.com. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  17. ^ Cole, Tom; Hart, Otis (February 20, 2017). "Guitarist Larry Coryell, Godfather Of Fusion, Dies At 73". NPR.
  18. ^ First-Ever World Premiere Of Larry Coryell’s Last Opera

External links[edit]