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Larry Coryell - Spaces CD (album) cover


Larry Coryell


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.01 | 49 ratings

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5 stars Recorded in March of 1969, guest artists John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, and Chick Corea were coming straight out of the February 18 recording sessions with Miles Davis for what would become the album In a Silent Way. Larry is quoted as saying that it took a whole day of recording for his guests to 'come back down to earth' in order to play his compositions as he set forth. Consequently, none of the music recorded from Day One ended up being used on the published album.

1. "Spaces (Infinite)" (9:16) Miroslav Vitous' bowed double bass is a nice presence during the opening 90-seconds but then he falls into fast picking as the song congeals and takes off at full speed at the end of the second minute. Larry takes the first extended solo of this composition credited to Julie Coryell (Larry's wife). John's unique support work on rhythm guitar is an example of one of the things that, for me, sets him apart from all other guitarists, and Billy and Miroslav are definitely on the same high-powered wavelength despite the more traditional jazz form Larry is wanting. Still, John and Larry seem to be having fun playing around and off of each other. (No wonder the first incarnation of the famous Guitar Trio with John and Paco De Lucia would include Larry before Al Di Meola was ever considered). There are definitely many beautiful melody ideas presented here as well as some very exciting dynamic play during the middle or second of the three very nicely composed motifs Julie and Larry have crafted together. (18.75/20)

2. "Rene's Theme" (4:06) an acoustic guitar duet between Larry and Belgian guitarist and Django Reinhardt devotee, René Thomas. You'd almost swear that it was, in fact, Django there in the room with Larry! (8.875/10)

3. "Gloria's Step" (4:29) double bass player Miroslav Vitous' bowed and unbowed playing are the highlights of this cover of a Scot LaFaro song made famous by Bill Evans's original Trio with his Live and the Village Vanguard sessions back in 1959 and 1960 (a song that is familiar to the listener because it has since become an ageless jazz standard). I also love Billy Cobham's exquisite work on the cymbals. (8.875/10)

4. "Wrong Is Right" (9:00) Larry, John, and Miroslav trade solos on this Django-paced jazz piece. Billy and John's more dynamically-varied playing definitely seem as they are coming from a different universe than that of Larry's. There are, however, some really nice melodies central to Larry's song that the band carries very faithfully. Also, I just love the pristine sound clarity of this one--not to mention the astonishing skill and spontaneity coming from all four of the band collaborators. (18.75/20)

5. "Chris" (9:31) like the opening song, this is a composition coming from Larry's wife, Julie. The addition of Chick Corea's electric piano is a wonderful effect to Larry's music, definitely smoothing and broadening the sound palette, taking a bit of the edge off of Larry's sometimes-abrasive jazz guitar sound and style. You might even say it offers the music (rightfully so, since it is listed as a composition of Larry's wife, Julie) a softer, more-feminine side. The subdued and rather laid-back restraint of the other three band members' performances while Larry is in the lead is not only noticeable but admirable--even remarkable. When Miroslav and John do get their turns at the front, they are still surprisingly soft and jazzy. (John almost lets himself go full Mahavishnu for a brief second in the final minute--with Billy quickly jumping on board with him--but then quickly pulls himself back in to conformity with Larry's expectations.) (18/20)

6. "New Year's Day in LA, 1968" (0:20) an excerpt of electric guitar and bass taken from a concert from the year before. I'm not sure why.

Total Time 36:42

Not the jazz-rock fusion masterpiece I was expecting, the "Godfather of Fusion" seems very much grounded still in the forms, sounds, and traditions of hard-bop and gypsy jazz more than the rock-infused idiom that he had helped to launch a few years before. But the collaboration with four other musicians who were each very much caught up in the movement to inject the explosive volume and abandon of Led Zeppelin-like Power Rock into their music is just enough to sway the music of three of the album's song (the three long compositions) over into the realms of forward-moving Jazz-Rock Fusion. Who knows the effect these recording sessions had on John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Miroslav Vitous, or Chick Corea, but their next projects would include Tony Williams' Lifetime, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, and Return to Forever, respectively. I do not know the reason for the extraordinary delay in time between the March 1969 recording sessions of this album and its November 1970 release, but both dates fall into the still-early days of the Jazz-Rock Fusion explosion-- and settle well before the first releases of The Mahavishnu Orchestra (Aug. 14, 1971 and released Nevember 3, 1971), Weather Report (Recorded Feb. 16 & March 17 and released on May 12, 1971) or Return to Forever (February 2 & 3, 1972, released in September).

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of early Jazz-Rock Fusion.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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