Jazz, classical, pop, blues and soul--it's all in the family as far as guitarist Larry Coryell and his sons, Julian and Murali, are concerned. Each has a new album out aimed at different, yet sometimes overlapping, audiences.
The most artful and old-fashioned of the bunch is "Private Concert" (Acoustic Music), a series of intimate jazz guitar recitals by the family patriarch. One of the great jazz fusion pioneers, Coryell has recorded a lot of music over the past 30 years while playing in both adventurous and predictable settings. More and more, though, his concerts have showcased the kind of solo arrangements heard on this album: elegant acoustic and electric reworkings of pop, jazz and classical pieces. His remarkable handiwork takes a variety of supple forms as it freshens familiar pieces with substitute chords, ringing harmonics, complementary counter-melodies and rhythmic twists. Among the more alluring arrangements is a shimmering yet soulful version of George Harrison's "Something," a poetic reprise of Ravel's "Pavane de la Belle au Bois Dormant" and the Henry Mancini-Johnny Mercer classic "Moon River," which serves as the album's dreamy coda.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8171.)
Julian Coryell Although he has studied and played jazz guitar, Julian Coryell is pursuing a career in pop music. "Bitter to Sweet" (Mojo) quickly reveals his strengths: a knack for writing smart lyrics; a keening tenor voice that occasionally tapers off into a yearning falsetto; and a gift for devising colorful and textured arrangements that make use of a wide variety of rock and classical instruments in a manner that recalls such pop-rock acts as the Beatles, Queen and Squeeze.
Some of the best songs on the album find Coryell trying to sort out relationships without appearing either self-indulgent or overly sentimental. "Amnesia," "Cheat" and "Song for Cynics" are either clear-eyed or unflinchingly honest, and several other tunes also indicate Coryell is far more interested in reason than rhyme. "What's the object of desire/ Is it love or control?" he asks on "Looking for Confessions." While the answers to the questions posed on "Bitter to Sweet" remain elusive, Coryell's search to make sense of his emotional world ultimately inspires an intelligent and beautifully crafted pop album.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8172.)
Murali Coryell As for sibling Murali Coryell, he's thoroughly immersed in electric blues on "2120" (Czyz), often singing and playing guitar with a raw intensity inspired by such veteran bluesmen as Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed and Bo Diddley. Whether singing the praise of "Louise" at the top of his lungs or playing guitar with a confidence that suggests the influence of bluesmen Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray, it's clear that Coryell has done his homework. Adding some soul flavoring to the session is "Stop," an original, Craylike tune, and a funky remake of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." The Coryells perform Saturday at the Harmony Hall Regional Center in Fort Washington.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8173.)
CAPTION: Larry Coryell, center, with sons Murali, left, and Julian.