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Larry Coryell - The Eleventh House: Level One CD (album) cover


Larry Coryell

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars This is a must-have for any fan of furious fusion. Imagine a cross between Ian Carr's Nucleus and early Mahavishnu and this is what you get. Coryell found his Jan Hammer- esque counterpart in amazing blind keyboardist Mike Mandel and Alphonse Mouzon is as close to a Cobham-style drummer as it is possible to find. Mike Lawrence on trumpet is just as electric and maybe even spacier than Jerry Goodman. His style mirrors that of Miles Davis during that period. Likewise bandleader Coryell really pushed the limits of both his playing and composing with this band configuration and subsequent release.

However, the individual who deserves special merit, and really propels this intensely awesome record in a super-mahavishnu way is unheralded-til-now bassist John Lee. His raucous thundering pushes Larry's sound in a very satisfying way, and Coryell's power here is a direct result of John's pulsing support. This is not Funk in any way, though this record has a certain funkiness to it, and that is mostly Lee's doing.

Every song stands strong with repeated listenings. The album is actually entitled Level One, but if you ask me this is one of the highest levels of fusion attainable. Nictaphobia is a real mindblower and That's The Joint.

Report this review (#127044)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Owl
5 stars A shame this one is out of print because it's a real burner! I was lucky enough to see the tour for this album and talk about having your jaw drop.

The pieces have all the elements that made Coryell's 11th House so fun to listen to, the spacy mysterious melody lines (like certain portions of Suite (Entrance/Repose/Exit) and Nyctophobia), the high-energy snarling rock and funk and fiery interaction between the players, the band really hit its peak here (and dissolved afterwards).

If I had to pick highlights, the title cut, the edgy Nycotophobia and Suite (Entrance/Repose/Exit), and the solo guitar piece Eyes of Love score high on the fuse-o-meter for me.

Report this review (#158341)
Posted Friday, January 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Second or third album from LC's JR/F group and two major changes between Level One and Introducing; trumpet player Randy Brecker is gone replaced by the less present Michael Lawrence and the bassist slot is now occupied by John Lee. Along with the plain photo montage artwork (look at superstar Alphonse Mouzon's look), the other big change is that Danny Weiss is absent from the production desk. Songwriting-wise, LC practices a certain kind of democracy, Mandel, Mouzon, Lawrence and Lee getting at least one song in, LC only getting in three (on the flipside)

Opening on the title track, the band really seems to literally do that: take you to that first level. Everybody plays in unison and a basic structure. As if on intention the following Other Side, shows exactly that: much more impressive both structurally but virtuosity-minded, the track smokes under your stylus, and you might be tempted to keep your fire-extinguisher at hand. No need though, coz Larry & The Gang go soft (almost limp) with the much less enthralling Diedra. The amusingly titled Some Greasy Stuff gets the Eleventh House right back on track, with plenty of brass, an aerial synth and some gruffy guitars, courtesy of the master of the house. Rounding up the vinyl is the Ultra funky 200 MPH Nyctaphobia (fear of the night), where the average speed can't be controlled by a normal radar, as they approach RTF and MO cruising speed.

Obviously on the flipside, the opening three-movement (just under 6 minutes) Suite is the main attraction, with LC's guitars and Lawrence's trumpet exchanging wild leads. Eyes Of Love is an acoustic solo Coryell piece, which is a bit out of context, especially sandwiched between two scorchers, the aforementioned Suite and the very funky Struttin' With Sunshine, the latter a real wakeup call and paving the way for the closing That's The Joint, another funky piece where Coryell literally smokes his guitar strings red hot over wild brass section interventions. While the album ends fantastically, it leaves you wanting more, because the album's length is a bit on the short side, >> some 31 minutes for an album.

Not quite as successful as Introducing (or even Planet End), this album still holds some very interesting moments and compared to many other JF/F group, The Eleventh House is immediately recognizable, something which would eventually become problematic in years to come in the genre.

Report this review (#163804)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Level One is classic prog influenced hard rockin jazz fusion from the mid 70s in the style popularized by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever and Billy Cobham. With their upbeat optimistic grooves and hyper nerd funk, Eleventh House probably favors RTF more than the other two. Coryell and his gang are far more than just competent as they energetically rip through these tunes, yet they never seem to elevate themselves to quite the same stature as some of the previously mentioned bands with whom they share a common sound. Although Eleventh House might just slightly border on prog-fusion lite when compared to the genres greatest, you can't blame Coryell, whose guitar burns with a gritty hard rock sound that puts him ahead of all other fusion fret-meisters when it comes to pure heavy rock vibes and sound.

At their best, Eleventh House uses heavy metalized synth lines in conjunction with the trumpet to produce orchestrated futuristic melodies. Side one closer Nyctophobia is especially strong with a dissonant heavy synth melody that leads to an impossibly fast thrash/fsuion groove, courtesy powerhouse drummer Alphonse Mouzon, which peaks with more heavy jagged synthesizer lines, nice stuff. Other tunes that set them apart from the 70s fusion crowd feature echoed trumpet over space grooves that predate the sound of 90s acid jazz. Overall the playing on here is excellent, everyone has the expected ultra nimble skills expected of the jazz rock crowd during this era. The only problem with this album is that it only suffers in the inevitable comparison to their peer group who had the advantage of better song writers and arrangers.

Hardly a clone of Mahavishnu and RTF, Eleventh House are at their best when they accent their uniqueness, futuristic synth/horn lines and Coryell's extra greasy hard rockin guitar. This album is highly recommended for fans of classic mid-70s progressive jazz-rock.

Report this review (#263719)
Posted Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Most seem to prefer the first ELEVENTH HOUSE album but this one is a close second. For me the highlights are listening to Coryell on the guitar and Mouzon on the drum kit. Mouzon of course played on WEATHER REPORT's debut and man he takes the spotlight here much of the time.

"Level One" is a top three for me. This sounds really good, such a powerful sound and the drumming is killer. Coryell lights it up after a minute. "The Other Side" is uptempo with a great sounding rhythm section. Trumpet and electric piano come to the fore after 1 1/2 minutes. It's the guitar's turn before 3 minutes as Larry starts to solo. "Diedra" is laid back with some tasteful guitar before 2 minutes. "Some Greasy Stuff" is uptempo with horns blasting then we get some nasty guitar before 1 1/2 minutes. Back to the horns then the guitar returns late to end it. "NYCTOPHOBIA" is a top three as well. The drums impress and this one gets pretty intense. Yes they really rock hard here.

"Suite" is my final top three. Piano to start then it kicks in with horns. Guitar takes over before a minute but then the horns return. It settles right down to a calm 2 minutes in then kicks back in after 4 minutes. Great sound ! "Eyes Of Love" is mellow with acoustic guitar. "Struttin' With Sunshine" hits the ground running and the guitar is ripping it up a minute in. "That's The Joint" ends it with an intense ride as they let it all hang out.

An impressive release but it lacks warmth. Still for the guitar and drums alone I have to give this 4 stars.

Report this review (#801528)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Frankly I think this is a top five classic jazzrock album of all time and the zenith of the golden age of fusion in the marketplace. The band is flat out awesome and this is a smooth wave from beginning to end, like a surfer on the longest most serene ride of their life. Larry Coryell is the most prime example of a jazz based musician that took most of his chops from rock musicians and applied them in a manner that allowed him to stand out from his competition. None of the songs really stand out from the rest and this set begs to be digested as a whole. Sometimes I feel the running time is a bit short but that is a mild complaint.
Report this review (#2024781)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars The second Eleventh House album is not much different from the debut. Trumpet is less prominent as the player has changed so there's more spotlight for guitar and keyboards. The sounds is a bit more polished. Intensity stays the same, there are two-three high-intensity fusion numbers.

The title track starts off on the Mahavishnu Orchestra theme and is well composed. "The other side" is already a typical Eleventh House track with plenty of jamming and pulsating rhythm by Mouzon. Interplay is fiery. "Diedra" is a catchy, almost commercially friendly track. "Some greasy stuff" will be denied by many fusion purists due to its funky and simplified execution, it's closer to jazz-funk than fusion. "Nyctaphobia" is a 100mph excellent tour-de-force with all players flying in the clouds. Catchy main motive and captivating solos by guitar, trumpet and finally also the keyboard player. "Suite" is the most complex piece even having prog-rock elements and compositional complexity. Coryell is excelling with intensive playing. Rock'n'roll comes into play with "Struttin' with love" but things somehow don't get fired up until the end. "That's the joint" improves the impression by getting back to busy fusion and a bit bombastic sound.

Report this review (#2546711)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2021 | Review Permalink

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