Back in the summer of 1965, when I was 19, I traveled out to Seattle, chasing after my college sweetheart who couldn’t return with me to Indiana University in the fall. My parents in Philly gave me the OK, as long as I supported myself and took some courses at the University of Washington. Little did I know, that summer would be musically the most extraordinary three months of my young life. The city was lit up with jazz, soul and R&B. There was so much music I forgot about my girl the first week there, and also met a gregarious, crew-cutted, fresh-faced guitarist who played like no one else I had ever heard. His name was Larry Coryell, and he had a nightly gig at a club called the Embers, leading an exciting B-3 organ trio. An affable former journalism student also at UW, he hailed from Galveston, Texas, and was gifted with prodigious bebop chops and a style drenched in the blues—and rock ’n’ roll, if he felt like going there. In short, this guy could play anything he heard in his head, and the extroverted nature of the music plus his outgoing personality would just draw you in.
Larry was kind enough to let me sit in whenever I felt like it, and we became fast friends. The next thing I knew, I was working all over town with great local cats thanks to him.