Larry Coryell

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Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell 1979.jpg
Coryell in 1979
Background information
Birth name Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III
Born (1943-04-02)April 2, 1943
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
Died February 19, 2017(2017-02-19) (aged 73)
New York City
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, free jazz, pop, classical
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1965–2017
Labels Vanguard, Arista, Novus, Muse, Shanachie, Chesky, Wide Hive, Patuxent
Associated acts

Larry Coryell (born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III; April 2, 1943 – February 19, 2017) was an American jazz guitarist known as the "Godfather of Fusion".[1]


Larry Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas. He never knew his biological father, a musician. He was raised by his stepfather Gene, a chemical engineer, and his mother Cora, who encouraged him to learn piano when he was four years old.[2]

In his teens he switched to guitar. After his family moved to Richland, Washington, he took lessons from a teacher who lent him albums by Les Paul, Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel, and Tal Farlow. When asked what jazz guitar albums influenced him, Coryell cited On View at the Five Spot by Kenny Burrell, Red Norvo with Strings, and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. He liked blues and pop music and tried to play jazz when he was eighteen. He said that hearing Wes Montgomery changed his life.[3]

Coryell graduated from Richland High School, where he played in local bands the Jailers, the Rumblers, the Royals, and the Flames. He also played with the Checkers from nearby Yakima. He then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.[4]

In September 1965, Coryell moved to New York City, where he attended Mannes School of Music.[5] After moving to New York, he listened to classical composers such as Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich.[3]

He replaced guitarist Gábor Szabó in Chico Hamilton's quintet. In 1967–68, he recorded with Gary Burton. During the mid-1960s he played with the Free Spirits,[6] his first recorded band. His music during the late-1960s and early-1970s combined rock, jazz, and eastern music.[citation needed]

In the early 1970s, he led a group called Foreplay with Mike Mandel, a childhood friend.[7][8] He formed the group The Eleventh House in 1973. The albums sold well in college towns and the ensemble toured widely. Several of the group's albums featured drummer Alphonse Mouzon.[citation needed]

Following the breakup of this band, Coryell played mainly acoustic guitar but returned to electric guitar later in the 1970s. He released an album credited with Mouzon and an album with the Brecker Brothers that was recorded direct-to-disc. He made several acoustic duet albums, two with Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine. Their album Twin House (1977), received favorable reviews.

In 1979, Coryell formed The Guitar Trio with fusion guitarist John McLaughlin and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía. The group toured Europe and released a video recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in London entitled Meeting of the Spirits. In early 1980, Coryell's drug addiction led to his being replaced by Al Di Meola.[9]


Coryell died on February 19, 2017, of heart failure in New York City, at the age of 73. He was performing at the Iridium jazz club in Manhattan that weekend.[4][10]

Critical reception

In his review of the concert at the Iridium, David Miller of All About Jazz wrote:

"This was jazz at its finest—complex and virtuosic yet easily accessible, at times intense, at others fun-filled, and always with the feeling of the unknown that comes with truly spontaneous and inspired improvisation. While the music was steeped in the bop tradition, the musicians continually found new ways to utilize the idiom. Few locations other than New York could host a powerhouse gathering of musical heavyweights of this order, and one can only hope that the shows have been recorded for a future release."[11]

When NPR radio host Billy Taylor, on one of the editions of Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center, introduced Coryell, he said:

"Versatile virtuoso guitarist Larry Coryell proves to be more than an outstanding musician; he's also a particularly enlightening and affable conversationalist.[12]


Coryell at Jazz im Palmengarten, Frankfurt am Main, 2009
  • Albums are listed by release date.[13]

As leader

As sideman

With Gary Burton

With Marcel Dadi

  • Country Guitar Flavors (1996)
  • Nashville Rendez-Vous (1996)
  • Marcel Dadi (1997)

With Ithamara Koorax

  • Ithamara Koorax & Luiz Bonfa (1996)
  • Amor Sem Adeus (1998)
  • Almost in Love (2002)
  • Fusion Best (2012)

With Herbie Mann

  • Memphis Underground (1969)
  • Memphis Two-Step (1971)
  • Mellow (1981)

With Steve Marcus

  • Tomorrow Never Knows (Vortex, 1968)
  • Count's Rock Band (Vortex, 1969)
  • The Lord's Prayer (Vortex, 1969)

With Charles Mingus

With Don Sebesky

  • Don Sebesky and the Jazz-Rock Syndrome (1968)
  • Distant Galaxy (1968)
  • I Remember Bill: Tribute to Bill Evans (1998)

With L. Subramaniam

  • Blossom (1981)
  • Spanish Wave (1983)
  • Mani and Co. (1986)

With Kazumi Watanabe

  • Dogatana (1981)
  • One for All (1999)

With others


  • L. Subramaniam Violin From the Heart (1999) – directed by Jean Henri Meunier (includes a scene of Coryell performing with L. Subramaniam)
  • Meeting of the Spirits /1979 (2003) – live performance in London featuring Coryell, John McLaughlin, and Paco de Lucia
  • Super Guitar Trio and Friends in Concert /1990 (2005) – live performance featuring Coryell, Al Di Meola, and Biréli Lagrène
  • Super Guitar Trio: Live in Montreux /1989 (2007) – live performance featuring Coryell, Al Di Meola, and Biréli Lagrène
  • Three Guitars: Paris Concert /2004 (2012) – live performance featuring Coryell, Badi Assad, and John Abercrombie
  • Larry Coryell: Blues and Beyond (2017) - video series featuring Coryell



  1. ^ Richard S. Ginell (April 2, 1943). "Larry Coryell | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ Varga, George. "Jazz fusion guitarist Larry Coryell dies at 73". Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Barth, Joe (2006). Voices in Jazz Guitar. Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay. pp. 141–157. ISBN 0786676795. 
  4. ^ a b Keepnews, Peter (February 21, 2017). "Larry Coryell, Guitarist of Fusion Before It Had a Name, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Goodbye…Larry Coryell, 1943-2017". Elmore Magazine. February 21, 2017. 
  6. ^ Unterberger 1998, pg. 329
  7. ^ Coryell, Larry (2007). Improvising: My Life in Music. New York: Backbeat. p. 89. ISBN 9780879308261. 
  8. ^ "Larry Coryell profile". March 17, 1973. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Larry Coryell Power Trio". by Mike Riggs March 19, 2009 at the Blues Alley, Washington, D.C. Retrieved November 9, 2010. 
  10. ^ Cole, Tom; Hart, Otis (February 20, 2017). "Guitarist Larry Coryell, Godfather Of Fusion, Dies At 73". NPR Music. 
  11. ^ "Larry Coryell Live at the Iridium". Retrieved November 9, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Larry Coryell Live at the Kennedy Center". Retrieved November 9, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Larry Coryell". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 February 2018. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Larry Coryell Interview - NAMM Oral History Library (2008)
  • Larry Coryell: Blues and Beyond
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