The Feb. 21 edition of Tuesday Afternoon Jazz featured a tribute to guitarist Larry Coryell — renowned as the “Godfather of Fusion” — who passed away at the age of 73 on Feb. 19 following a series of appearances in New York City.
In a career that spanned five decades, Coryell appeared on more than 75 albums as a bandleader or accompanist with artists running the gamut from Miles Davis, Chick Corea and Gary Burton to Dave Brubeck, The Eleventh House and Chet Baker.
Coryell’s first gig came as a sideman in 1965 for drummer Chico Hamilton as he replaced Gabor Szabo in Hamilton’s band. A few years later, he recorded a series of albums with vibes player Burton before releasing his first solo album, Lady Coryell, in 1968 with drummer Elvin Jones playing on a handful of tracks.
His follow-up, Coryell, came out a year later, but it was his 1970 LP, Spaces, that has been long considered the start of the jazz fusion genre. The album featured such influential players as drummer Billy Cobham, keyboardist Chick Corea, guitarist John McLaughlin and bassist Miroslav Vitouš.
The 1970s were a busy period for Coryell, between solo projects and sessions with the likes of Charles Mingus, Jim Pepper, John Scofioeld and the Eleventh House, which included trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Alphonse Mouzon, keyboardist Mike Mandel and bassist Danny Trifan. The group would release four albums and become a fan favorite for their live performances.
In addition to a 90-minute tribute to Coryell with music spanning his career, there is also a spotlight on trumpet player Blue Mitchell to round out the second half of the program.