Seven Secrets, final leader recording from guitarist Larry Coryell before his death in February, is uneven. Actually, that’s an understatement—it seems to be two separate albums entirely, with a remarkable drop in quality between them.
This final incarnation of 11th House, Coryell’s seminal mid-’70s fusion group, features three of the band’s charter members (the leader, trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Alphonse Mouzon) and John Lee, its longest-tenured bassist. In place of Mike Mandel’s keyboards, however, Coryell’s son Julian handles second guitar. The result is a leaner, cleaner sound that crisp state-of-the-art production only augments. And on the album’s first half, it lends the 11th House a rougher edge than it ever had in its heyday. On the rocked-out “Mr. Miyake,” both the elder Coryell’s electric lead and the younger’s acoustic accompaniment cut sharp as razor blades, with Brecker providing a similarly lacerating solo. “Dragon’s Way” hits even harder, Mouzon pummeling the kit without mercy amid scorchers from the guitars and trumpet. Even Larry Coryell’s acoustic tune, “Molten Grace,” hides a knotty and barb-filled melody inside its folky pace.