Larry Coryell: Larry Coryell With the Wide Hive Players

Larry Coryell isn’t out to impress anyone with intricate compositions, serpentine solos or transcendent group synergy on his recent album Larry Coryell With the Wide Hive Players. He’s just there to have a good time, he’s there to party-that much can be divined from the retro psychedelic soul-jazz album art.

While a laidback, what-the-hey approach may help some musicians in some situations, it’s also what’s wrong with this album. For one thing, Coryell doesn’t need to go and do a “retro” anything-the guy helped create the genre known as jazz-rock. He should also be able to record with pretty much anybody he wants to. So why did he align himself with a run-of-the-mill back-up band?

Not to say this disc is a disaster-it’s not. It’s perfectly fine background music for a deck party. It’s just that it’s all so simple. The record’s peak arrives early with “Torchlight,” a funk-rock jam with an undulating bassline, emphatic horns and echo-drenched guitar. You’ve got your slow, swampy blues number in “Cobalt,” and your downtrodden “December Blues” with an unaccompanied, my-baby-done-me-wrong guitar solo to open. “Return of the Shirtless” is the requisite meaty slab of funk, with fat horns, a fuzzy Fender Rhodes and crunchy electric guitar. But not in a single song does anything extra-special emerge. Indeed, Coryell can sound trite: the one-bar phrase repeated over 12 bars on “Terco,” the overdone flange effect on “Moose Knuckle,” the insipid melody and chord progression of “Tilden.” In short, this album wouldn’t be a bad debut. But we expect more from Larry Coryell.