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Larry Coryell - The Eleventh House: Introducing The Eleventh House With Larry Coryell CD (album) cover


Larry Coryell


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.04 | 54 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars With 1969's Spaces (released, mysteriously, some 19 months after it was recorded), it felt as if guitarist Larry Coryell might have been a little reluctant to jump fully on board the Power Rock infusion of the Jazz-Rock Fusion movement, but then I'm sure he could see the commercial, critical, and financial success his band mates from that album were having: John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miroslav Vitous with Weather Report, and Chick Corea with his Return To Forever project.

Tapping into some of his more adventurous New York City-based friends this was what he came up with. Released in February of 1974.

1. "Birdfingers" (3:07)Alphonse Mouzon gets us started, showing off a little of his skills before the song's swirling melody lines are launched by Larry Coryell and Randy Brecker and, later, Mike Mandel. Man! These guys are all moving!--especially the afore-mentioned trio. Great opener putting it all out there! (9.75/10)

2. "The Funky Waltz" (5:10) using a "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"-like bass and cymbal foundation the synth, trumpet and electric guitar lines established over the top are nice though the weird "fireworks"-like synth flares are pretty annoying. Larry's mute/wah-affected solos in the second and third minutes have the sound that is similar to that of the pedal steel that I hear from Steely Dan guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter on Can't Buy a Thrill or the horns from the Pretzel Logic album. (8.66667/10)

3. "Low-Lee-Tah" (4:17) opening with a reverbed guitar arpeggio display similar to something we all heard on the Mahavishnu albums. The rest of the band slowly joins in, not yet shifting the tempo into anything above first gear but maintaining a great atmosphere of potential energy. Randy Brecker takes the first solo. I wish they had mixed him better: more a part of the song instead of feeling outside of the others. Larry takes the next solo using lots of bending of notes on the fretboards like John McLaughlin does with his special scooped frets for his Indian music. Pretty cool but not perfect. (9/10)

4. "Adam Smasher" (4:30) A bit of a Steely Dan sound to this one with the funk bass and drums and clavinet. Mike Mandel's Fender Rhodes takes the first solo sounding like the next Bob James generation of the Herbie/Chick sound. Randy's solo is interesting for his virtuosic use of the muting device. Larry's solo is next: he's using a wah-pedal/device that gives another shape and sound to his dextrous guitar play. (It almost sounds like the talkbox tube made famous by Peter Frampton.) (8.875/10)

5. "Joy Ride" (6:08) more laid back music that allows more space for the musicians to be heard and appreciated. During the first two minutes as the band establishes the foundations and framework of the song, Larry's guitar playing sounds almost like he's playing an acoustic: so smooth and fluid. Later he gets more aggressive and fiery in his particular way. The keys are particularly noticeable throughout, feeling something between Herbie Hancock and Bob James. I like the picking up of the pace in the fifth minute for the duelling between Larry and the wah-effected ARP and trumpet. Overall, another song that is perhaps a little too simple in its basic construct: like having white bread when you want wheat or rye. (8.75/10)

6. "Yin" (6:03) more power jazz-rock fusion that seems to be trying to sound like Billy-Cobham led Mahavishnu music. I like Larry's abrasive rhythm guitar while supporting Randy Brecker's great first solo. His solo in the third minute over the high-speed rhythm track below is awesome--as is the hard-driving work of bassist Danny Trifan and drummer Mouzon. Perhaps the best song on the album. Randy, Alphonse, and Danny are extraordinary. (9.75/10)

7. "Theme for a Dream" (3:26) slow and dreamy with a bit of a feel of an interlude song from a Broadway musical. The kind of musical landscape that spawned the Easy Listening and Smooth Jazz genres of music. Larry's muted and effected guitar sounds a lot like the virtuosic background guitar play of Steely Dan's great guitarists like Larry Carlton, Jay Graydon, Dean Parks, Hugh McCracken, and Lee Ritenour. It's pretty! (8.875/10)

8. "Gratitude 'A So Low'" (3:21) a solo electric guitar song from Larry. Not very melodic nor even super impressive! (8.666667/10)

9. "Ism - Ejercicio" (3:59) trying to be heavy and ominous, it's just not working: neither the chord progression, low end, or pacing. The bass-and-drum race of the second minute is an odd and not altogether engaging motif, nor is the next heavy, plodding Mahavishnu-like blues-rock motif over which Randy's muting play solo ensues. Then there is the YES- like motif in the final minute in which Alphonse's drumming sounds out of sync with the others. (8.6666667/10)

10. "Right On Y'All" (4:21) a fairly together fast-driving song with more sounds and stylings that remind me of Steely Dan as well as some annoying cowbell, guitar play, and synth noises. (8.75/10)

Total Time 44:22

All of Larry's bandmates are quite competent with drummer Alphonse Mouzon receiving a lot of attention for his dynamic work, but, for me, it is trumpeter Randy Brecker who keeps stealing my attention away from the others--even from Larry himself. I agree with other reviewers that the songwriting on this album seemed to take a back seat to A) fitting into the genre and B) showing off the skills of the individual musicians.

For as talented and skilled as Larry Coryell was, he must have had a stubborn streak running deep inside cuz the dude never quite fit in--never became as famous, always stuck to a very eccentric agenda and style of music--even his guitar sound remained "stuck" inside some kind of dirty, raunchy, macho that sounded as if he had to make more noise than everyone else. Maybe he had some kind of inferiority complex that he was compensating for. Maybe it's because he had to wear glasses. Or because he was from Seattle. But he had cool hair! My point is: the dude never really moved to the front of the class and I think this had a lot to do with his stubbornly eccentric choices: he wanted to be different and he was; it was just not the kind of 'different' that propels one to the top of the charts or in front of sold-out arena- size audiences.

B+/4.5 stars; there are some great, top tier J-R Fuse tunes and performances here--some real highs--but there are also a few duds, making this album as a whole the kind of middle of the road.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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