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Larry Coryell - Barefoot Boy CD (album) cover


Larry Coryell


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.46 | 39 ratings

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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.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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