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Larry Coryell: A Retrospective

With director Daniel E. Meza’s liner notes touting Larry Coryell as “one of the greatest guitarists of all time, if not the greatest,” and an introductory quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes about the difficulty of recognizing genius, it’s easy to approach A Retrospective with some skepticism. But then Coryell launches into the bluesy, Jimi Hendrix-inspired “After Later,” and the hype suddenly comes into focus.

As Coryell points out in his recent autobiography, Improvising: My Life in Music, his drug abuse may be the primary reason he didn’t join the ranks of Hendrix, John McLaughlin and Eric Clapton in the 1960s. Son Julian Coryell (who plays rhythm guitar on the DVD) chastises Rolling Stone for not naming his father among such luminaries within its “100 Greatest Guitarists,” but this retrospective succeeds the most when the elder Coryell lets his guitar speak for him.

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