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Larry Coryell: New High

Guitarist Larry Coryell is so good at so many things-from hard-edged electric work to mainstream to solo pieces that encompass creative originals and even classical material-that it’s impossible to guess what he’ll do next. But the opening moments of this most recent album leave little doubt that he’s in a blowing, straightahead frame of mind and in command of an expert combo that includes trumpeter Shunzo Ono, pianist Ronnie Mathews, vibist Mark Sherman, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Yoron Israel.

The opener, “Bag’s Groove,” sets the album’s overall vibe, moving from a tantalizing rendering of the head in tight harmony to open solos that include deft contributions by Ono and Sherman (who skillfully takes off on a phrase by Ono) and a well-stated guitar excursion that integrates fourths-based ideas, funkier licks and exciting displays. Throughout the set, however, there are plenty of contrasts, including those provided by an emotional reading of “Old Folks” and “Funereal,” a solemn but longing paean to Coryell’s mom, who recently passed away. The program closes with “New High,” a grooving modal workout complete with intricate ensemble episodes and a fluid guitar solo, all of which provides a fitting conclusion to an album that is beautifully played and recorded.

Originally Published