Song Of The Day: Larry Coryell “Gypsy Queen”
Today we remember Jazz-fusion pioneer and brilliant guitarist Larry Coryell, who sadly passed yesterday. Known as the “Godfather of Fusion”, Coryell brought an inventiveness, intensity and funkiness to the jazz guitar. On Gabor Szabo‘s song “Gypsy Queen” (a song popularized by Santana), Coryell shows what he can do, first laying down a funky alternative rhythm to allow saxophone Steve Marcus to wail before tearing into his own mind bending solo at around the 4:10 mark. Coryell pulls out all the stops, incorporating ideas from everyone from Hendrix to Wes Montgomery to quotes from Gabor Szabo himself as well as throwing in plenty of his own ideas.
Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas but grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He first cut his teeth professionally replacing Gabor Szabo in Chico Hamilton’s band before getting going off in his own direction, helping to invent jazz-rock fusion in the late 60s and early 70s. Equally adept and inventive on both the electric and acoustic guitar, Coryell played in a lot of different groups, including forming fusion super group The Eleventh House, in an acoustic guitar trio with John McLaughlin and Paco DeLucia, and even solo as part of a Django Reinhardt tribute project.
Coryell remained active up until his death. I caught him late last year here in DC at Blues Alley where he had a week long residency and fronted a group along with two other guitarists. The music was so good the first night, my friend and I ended up going back the two subsequent nights.