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March 2004

Larry Coryell
The Power Trio
HighNote Records

Captured at Chicago's Jazz Showcase, The Power Trio (HighNote)-headed by guitarist Larry Coryell and featuring bassist Larry Gray and drummer Paul Wertico-reflects the best of live recordings, with its spontaneity and high musical values, while minimizing the funky sonic qualities and performance glitches that can plague such projects. Mainstream in character, the set nonetheless exhibits some of the adventurous tendencies that have led Coryell to experiment with high-voltage fusion, Brazilian music and more contemporary forms. The opener, a burning treatment of "Autumn Leaves," sets the stage for the rest of the program and finds Coryell moving between single-note tattoos and chord phrases that often move symmetrically while hovering over the percolating underpinning. As the set unfolds, he pays tribute to some of the guitarists who have influenced him, including Barney Kessel (with a tender treatment of "Love Is Here to Stay"), Tal Farlow (with a series of artificial harmonics during "Black Orpheus") and Wes Montgomery (with a soulful reading of "Bumpin' on Sunset"). A gorgeous solo-guitar rendition of George Harrison's "Something," which also visits "Fool on the Hill," provides a dramatic change of pace that takes advantage of the guitar's many tonal and textural capabilities. Occasionally, the sound of the guitar is a bit uneven, but Coryell's strong showing and his band's overall synchronicity clearly dominate, making for a recording that approaches classics like Jim Hall's Live! and Mongomery's Full House.

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Andrew Lepley

Larry Coryell

Originally published in March 2004
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