Later this month, guitarist Julian Coryell, in tribute to his late father, the legendary Larry Coryell, will lead a new incarnation of the jazz-rock band the 11th House on a brief West Coast tour. The 11th House’s latest album, Seven Secrets, was released earlier this month on Savoy Jazz. We asked Coryell a few questions via email. Tour dates and links can be found below the Q&A. Look out for Julian’s tribute to his father in the July/August of JazzTimes and on JazzTimes.com.
JazzTimes: Seven Secrets features two great talents we lost before its release in early June: drummer Alphonse Mouzon, and your father, Larry Coryell. Describe the sessions for the album: the energy, the camaraderie. Are there any particular anecdotes that stand out in your mind now?
The energy was fantastic. The 11th House band has a history over 40 years long. For them to all be in the same room creating new music for a genre they helped invent was literally and figuratively electric.
The camaraderie was incredibly high. For me it was a dream come true. Every day felt like Christmas. Recording incredible music during the day, then wonderful meals at night with lots of laughter, reminiscing about the old days. Not surprisingly, with that kind of history things are bound to shake loose. There was a particularly tense point toward the end of recording where Dad and Alphonse got into it a bit. I would’ve been more concerned, except for the fact that these were two men whose deep love and respect for each other eventually turned that tension into laughter.
What were your father’s goals for this album? What did you hope to achieve with it?
I think the last few years of his life were at least partially about coming full circle. [He was] revisiting landscapes that had been fertile in the past and seeing what it felt like from a different vantage point.
I felt very lucky to be included. Every day for me was about setting an intention to be supportive in a room full of masters.
In the context of his career, how did your father view the 11th House? It seems like there was a specific set of very high standards reserved for any recording or performance that took place under that banner.
I think he had mixed feelings about it. Fusion started as something very unique and wonderful and eventually devolved into something much less spectacular. So he was pretty careful not to wear it out after its heyday. But once he decided to revisit it, his ambitions and standards were high. He took the project very seriously and personally, and that comes through loud and clear on this new album.
What kind of rapport did you have with Larry as fellow guitarists in an ensemble?
Not enough words to describe that! He was very generous with me on this record. I was more than happy to play a supportive role, but he really encouraged me to step out and make my voice heard. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have one of the greatest musicians in the world as my teacher for 40 years. That being said, it wasn’t always an easy path to walk. To this day I still hear him yelling in my ear when I’m playing a gig!
Talk a bit about the ensemble we’ll be hearing on the upcoming tour. Can we get a preview of what the set list might look like?
We’ve got a fantastic band. We’re fortunate to have John Lee joining on bass, who was in the original 11th House band for many years. The rest of us are a couple of generations after, so that mix is very exciting for me. We’re gonna light it up! We’ll be playing cuts from the new record and of course lots of classic and deep cuts from the old days. For fans of jazz-rock, it’s going to be a really special evening. One they’ve been waiting for for a long time. One for the books!
6/19: Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (Seattle)
6/20-21: Blue Whale (L.A.)
6/22-24: Blue Note (Napa)