December 1997

Julian Coryell
N2K Encoded Music

The son of guitar hero Larry Coryell makes his own mark on this Stateside debut (originally released last year in Japan). And while his singing-guitar playing brother Murali has focused his career on contemporary blues (a la Robert Cray), Julian has decided to go down a smooth jazz path. Given the genre, the music is often soft and simple, melodic and non-threatening, as on "Gay's Flight," "Seryozha's Lament," "The New Duality" and the lightly hip-hop flavored "Darkman." His warm-toned legato phrasing along with certain chromatic statements and intervallic leaps are often a little too close to Metheny for comfort (particularly on the two jazziest offerings, "Mr. Snike" and "Truth") but the kid obviously has a command of the instrument and occasionally shows flashes of his father's fleet-fingered bravado, as on an exhilarating instrumental rendition of Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues."

Although much of this material is geared to EZ-listening audiences, Julian does take some intriguing liberties with Joni Mitchell's "River," Bob Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do" and Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding," a gorgeous, melancholy ballad that was once covered by Chet Baker. I have the feeling that this budding young talent is playing it a little safe on this first outing, just as his father had done on his own radio-friendly offerings in the early '90s. I'm curious to see if Julian pushes the envelope a little bit further on his next project or if he sticks with this more accessible and potentially lucrative formula.

Originally published in December 1997
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