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Larry Coryell - Barefoot Boy CD (album) cover


Larry Coryell

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars Recorded at Lady Land studios in `71 Coryell grooves through three highly inprovisational pieces which are centered around his resplendent electric guitar playing and Steve Marcus` screeching saxes on this free for all which also features the relentless drumming of Roy Haynes. It`s a solid example of Coryell`s boundless energy in the early `70s and arguably his best amplified work.

The first track is a furious take on Gobor Szabo`s Gypsy Queen with no bass which adds to Coryell`s unmitigated fury while he tries to accomodate this void simutaneosly stating the bass line. Along with Marcus` crazed soprano sax there are two percussionists present throughout the session which add a groove to the frenzy. Especially effective are Lawrence Kilan`s omni-present conga offbeats. Coryell`s preference for the more mellow tone of hollowbody guitars set him apart from other guiarists who liked to push the limits at the time, and constantly remind the listener of his jazz attitudes regardless of how loud or fast he was playing, which gives Barefoot Boy a jazz feel while the volume suggests harder edged rock intentions. The Great Escape which rounds off side one, foreshadows his groovin`funked up playing which would surface with The Eleventh House with touches of psychedelia. The album concludes with a 20 minute jammed out track, Call To Higher Consiousness, with more of Coryell`s restless guitar improvisation and Marcus`Coltrane-on-speed saxwork on which he switches to tenor sax. However the overdrive of side one lets up at times and it transforms from a Go nuts Larry and Mike to a more reflective group effort with much more dynamics and the addition of Mike Mandel on electric piano.

While fusion nuts have been doing back-flips over this album for over three decades the sheer intensity of the playing disguises the fact that it is a loud jazz album with more of these attributes finding their way into the music throughout side two. However it`s percieved, Bare foot Boy is essential listening material from the formative days of fusion.

Report this review (#132094)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars Probably Larry Coryell's most important album outside the Eleventh House efforts, Barefoot Boy is the first truly jazz-rock album of his. Although LC took the Village Gate line-up of Bronson and Wilkinson, he future regular collabs Steve Markus (sax) and his old school friend Mike Mandel (KB) to make a sensational line-up that will make the next few albums' basis. With one of the poorer artwork of his early discography, BB is just three tracks but do they ever smoke, breathing in some cool rapid conga-fuelled rock and swallowing a wild sax and spewing out a torrid incandescent lava flow that will set fire to your speakers if listened to loud, let alone your brain cells.

Indeed the 12-mins Gypsy Queen is a long steady rapid-fire rock beat, but it serves as a base for Markus' absolutely wild sax solo, while Coryell either supports Markus or outdoes him in astounding Hendrix-like solos. The following 8-mins+ Great Escape is a much funkier (but in a very rock way) driven on Bronson's bass, where again LC is pouring his heart into his solo. Somehow the second Traffic line-up (Kwaaku Reebop) is not far away. The flipside is a sidelong extrapolation of The Higher Consciousness, where Markus and Coryell directly take the track into pure Nucleus-like fusion with Mandel pulling the track later in a Coltrane mode, although he won't match Tyner's brilliance, but still manage a good rendition. Too bad the track is plagued with an almost 4 minutes drum solo (Haynes is no Elvin Jones), but once the track resumes, complete madness has taken over the musos

Although LC had made some terrific albums up to this one, they were, shall we say a bit in the Hendrix mode, something that dramatically changes with BB. Well LC had found a stable group and it would be the same line-up to appear on next year's just as superb Offering and the much poorer Real Great Escape, before LC will take Mandel to found The Eleventh House. Possibly LC's crowning achievement, this album is an easy five star.

Report this review (#163801)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is my favourite Larry Coryell album. It reminds me a lot of what Miles was doing at this time in 1971 with all that percussion but we get sax instead of trumpet. We get three long tracks over the 40 plus minutes. A five piece with a percussionist, drummer and congas player while Larry offers up some amazing guitar work and we get both soprano and tenor sax. We also get two guests adding piano and bass. The other albums Larry plays on that I really like are ET CETERA's "Knirsch" recording along with the first two Eleventh House recordings. He has such a big discography but those early to mid seventies records that he's on are my favourites. I should also mention the two albums he did with Steve Smith in the late nineties.

"Gypsy Queen" is actually a cover of a Gabor Szabo song that was originally five minutes long but Larry increases it here to almost 12 minutes. I haven't heard the original by this influential Hungarian Jazz guitarist. It opens with percussions and drums as the soprano sax comes in over top. Man I'm so into this type of music. That sax is incredible and adventerous as well. Is that guitar before 5 minutes! Oh my! Soon Coryell is ripping it up a minute later after those experimental guitar expressions. The sax is back a minute later having stepped aside for the guitar and here he is lighting it up big time, complete chaos. Drums and percussions only 10 1/2 minutes in but the guitar returns to end it. What a song!

"The Great Escape" opens with honking soprano sax and a catchy beat with bass. Hard not to bop around to this one. The guitar replaces the sax before a minute. The sax is back after 3 1/2 minutes as the guitar continues but it takes a back seat. The guitar is back to the forefront at 7 minutes as the sax steps aside to the end.

"Call To The Higher Consciousness" is the side long 20 minute closer. I like that we get some electric piano on this one. Quite the dramatic opening with guitar, sax and fast paced piano melodies. It settles in at 1/2 minutes and this reminds me of NUCLEUS. It's so uplifting for me hearing the electric piano, drums and tenor sax. The sax will start to become the focus playing over top. The guitar is back before 5 minutes but the sax still dominates here until stepping aside around 5 1/2 minutes as the guitar becomes the focus. The piano is back after 7 1/2 minutes as the guitar steps aside. It all stops before 10 minutes as we get that drum solo lasting until before 14 minutes when the guitar and sax return. This sounds like the intro and it also will settle into a groove after 15 minutes like before as themes are repeated. An amazing tune!

Without question one of my favourite albums from 1971 and that's saying something.

Report this review (#1920034)
Posted Sunday, May 6, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am in the minority of all reviewers because of several aspects: This is a free improvisational music that completely kills any compositional quality and structure of tracks. The second main aspect is the saxophone that most of the time defeats guitar with its intensity. The third track fares better with piano joining to support the saxophone supremacy. We also have a nice drum solo by a jazz legend Roy Haynes. On a positive note, both saxophone and guitar are very creative when playing solo not sticking to post-bop boundaries. Sonically, you could compare the album to Miles' 69 and 70's output. Recommended to very improvisational fusion fans.
Report this review (#2546319)
Posted Friday, May 28, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Godfather of Jazz-Rock pumps out his fourth album as band leader and principal composer since the failed super nova that was The Free Spirits.

1. "Gypsy Queen" (11:50) melodic soprano sax leads the cohesive band through the jungle while sherpas Mervin Bronson, Larry Coryell, and machete-wielding drummer Roy Haynes and percussionists Larry Killian and Harry Wilkinson negotiate with any intruders or inhibitors to the band's progress on their self-pioneered pathway. In the fifth minute Larry Coryell uses his guitar to fight off a barrage of monkeys or giant mosquitos. Crazy experimental sounds and engineering techniques used throughout this section sounding at times like Godzilla on a rampage--or perhaps some of his radiation-mutated friends. In the ninth minute Larry returns to support while Steve Marcus returns with his sax and the tempo slows down a bit (or at least becomes variable). I am always pleasantly surprised to hear Larry Coryell play the supporting role to the solos of others cuz I'm never sure what he's going to do; here he strums loudly using his wah-wah-monster effect, never backing down on his volume, re-usurping his lead role in the tenth minute for a bit before giving some shine to his drummer and percussionists. There's nothing so shocking or innovative here but it is a damn fine, eminently-listenable song. (22.5/25)

2. "The Great Escape" (8:39) the bass, guitar, and even rhythm section here is mired in some blues-rock with Larry himself playing something akin to Louisiana swamp guitar. The percussionists keep it real, though--keep the music anchored in urban life--and then saxophone player Steve Marcus tries to solidify the jazz roots of the song with some nice Charlie Parker-like playing--with Larry standing on the sidelines in silence. Much better. When Larry returns near the seven-minute mark it is with some nice rock/R&B effects and some very-precisely-nuanced playing--almost like one of the genius virtuosi from the Motown stable. I like the second half of this very much, not so much the first. (17.75/20)

3. "Call to Higher Consciousness " (20:00) a very pacifying four-chord motif for minutes (with Michael Mandel on piano) over which Steve Marcus' tenor saxophone solos beautifully, emotionally, over the first five minutes. Then Larry takes his turn, throwing his darts rapid-fire for the next two and a half minutes before giving up the spotlight for the next two minutes to Mandel's ivory tickling. Mervin Bronson and the percussionists below remain quite committed to their sedating beat until 9:40 when everybody clears out for a Roy Haynes solo. I'm sorry but I've just got to say it: this solo is just incongruous--it just doesn't seem to fit the mellow, relaxing, meditative mood the title and previous ten minutes would suggest. At 13:30 it's over and the rest of the band charges onto the scene with a series of forceful blues-rock bursts that seem like they're signaling the end but no! Bassist Mervin Bronson and Michael Mandel's piano set up another motif to groove into--this one a little more jazz-rock like something by Brian Auger with a now-bass four chord progression and competing soloing going on by not only Marcus and Coryell but Roy Haynes as well. In the 18th minute Larry switches to full-on rock 'n' roll: heavily distorted power chords, but then he backs off and plays some extraordinary delicate lead machine gun riffs and runs as the rest of the band supports as gently as they did in the first nine minutes. Awesome slow, unravelling finish. As with all multi-part suites, this one is a tough one to assign a single number rating to. Aside from the disruption of the drum solo, this is really an excellent song with wonderful performances of a fairly simple yet-effective composition. (36.75/40)

Total Time 40:29

I really like Larry's exposition of distinctly different styles on this album but more I love (and greatly respect) his restraint--especially in second and third songs but also on the supporting role he plays for over half of the opening song. Several of his solos are more concise and controlled--less rambling than he can sometimes do--and yet there are those frenzied ramblers as well (especially when he's experimenting).

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of various and some experimental styles of early jazz-rock and fringe jazz-rock fusion. There is some really nice music here with some very enjoyable solos. Even Larry's experimentation with sound and style are interesting and often astonishing. I can see why this album is a favorite with many other listeners/reviewers.

Report this review (#3052669)
Posted Tuesday, May 7, 2024 | Review Permalink

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