Julian Coryell: Duality

The son of guitar hero Larry Coryell makes his own mark on this Stateside debut (originally released last year in Japan). And while his singing-guitar playing brother Murali has focused his career on contemporary blues (a la Robert Cray), Julian has decided to go down a smooth jazz path. Given the genre, the music is often soft and simple, melodic and non-threatening, as on “Gay’s Flight,” “Seryozha’s Lament,” “The New Duality” and the lightly hip-hop flavored “Darkman.” His warm-toned legato phrasing along with certain chromatic statements and intervallic leaps are often a little too close to Metheny for comfort (particularly on the two jazziest offerings, “Mr. Snike” and “Truth”) but the kid obviously has a command of the instrument and occasionally shows flashes of his father’s fleet-fingered bravado, as on an exhilarating instrumental rendition of Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues.”

Although much of this material is geared to EZ-listening audiences, Julian does take some intriguing liberties with Joni Mitchell’s “River,” Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want To Do” and Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding,” a gorgeous, melancholy ballad that was once covered by Chet Baker. I have the feeling that this budding young talent is playing it a little safe on this first outing, just as his father had done on his own radio-friendly offerings in the early ’90s. I’m curious to see if Julian pushes the envelope a little bit further on his next project or if he sticks with this more accessible and potentially lucrative formula.