I’m sure you heard that adage about telling people you love them, because you never know when — or if — you’ll get to see them again.
Same goes for musicians. You should see them if you have the opportunity. Larry Coryell passed away Sunday, February 19th, at the age of 73. He had been living for some time in Orlando, a relative stone’s throw from my home, yet I had not seen him perform since 1975. I had the great fortune to do a phone interview with him 04/03/17 in advance of a St. Petersburg show (which I could not make).
He had worked with Alphonse Mouzon on “getting the band back together,” and by band we mean The Eleventh House, that incredible fusion band that arose early in the funk-rock-jazz movement with Coryell on guitar, Mouzon on drums, John Lee on bass, Mike Mandel on keyboards, and Randy Brecker on trumpet. The new addition had Coryell’s son Julian on guitar in place of Mandel, and they recorded a new album.
At the time of the interview, Coryell was looking forward to playing with this band at the Montreal Jazz Festival. However, Coryell took ill and had to cancel. Then Mouzon died on December 25th.
Coryell’s first recording date was in 1966 with Chico Hamilton. He played in a psychedelic band called The Free Spirits and played with Gary Burton in the late ’60s. One of his best-known recordings was Spaces (1970), truly in the vanguard (and ON Vanguard Records!) of the fusion scene, collaborating with John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham and Miroslav Vitouš.
He was equally adept on acoustic and electric guitars. In fact, he was part of the original Guitar Trio with McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia before drug problems forced him off the road. He was replaced in that trio by Al di Meola.
Coryell had 70 albums to his name and played on 30 more during his storied career, including albums with Burton, Herbie Mann, Charles Mingus and Steve Marcus.
There was only one Barefoot Boy, and he’s gone.