Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Box Of 45's: Larry Coryell

Larry Coryell is a jazz guitarist who may be known these days for his smooth jazz stylings. In the early 1970's however he was known for his fusion work, up there with John McLaughlin. He released one album in 1971 on the Flying Dutchman label (in the U.S. via Atlantic), Barefoot Boy, at the same time Miles Davis was unleashing his Bitches Brew. It was a very unique time for jazz, as some artists were having crossover success in the rock world. Jazz guitarists were becoming heroes in their own right, and Coryell was one of those that many were talking about.

In recent years, the Barefoot Boy album has become sought after not only by jazz fusion fans, but also by hip-hop cratediggers who discovered that one of the songs on the album was sampled by a well known group from Los Angeles, the same group that also sampled the Scratch 45 that was in the first installment of my Box Of 45's section.

It is an amazing album, three tracks in total, including the side-long track on side two, "Call To The Higher Consciousness", which came from the teachings of his guru, Sri Chinmoy (Who guitarist Pete Townshend also sought guidance through him in the early 1970's). So it comes as a surprise to me that Flying Dutchman, or at least Atco, went out of their way to release a 45 for two of the songs here. "The Great Escape" is a Coryell original, while "Gypsy Queen" is a Gabor Szabo composition that became famous a year before by Santana when they teamed it up with their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman". "Gypsy Queen", in its released form, is just over eleven minutes, while "The Great Escape" is about nine. In 45 rpm form, both are just under three minutes. It's hard to imagine any radio stations, especiall AM sstations, giving this devoted airplay, when jazz fusion was a bit more sophisticated than the average pop song. It seems they just listened to a portion of a song and said "okay, let's begin... HERE! La la la and okay, the clock is almost to three minutes so let's fade right... THERE!"

As a collector, I'm a huge fan of the Atlantic label and all of its subsidiaries. Atlantic distributed Flying Dutchman briefly in the early 1970's, and at this point Led Zeppelin was bringing in more money for Atlantic than Aretha Franklin. Atlantic were also about to have massive success with The Allman Brothers Band's Live At Fillmore East, it was a different time and it seemed everyone was progressing forward with their music. While the Barefoot Boy album might be considered "on the fringe" by jazz purists, it is more interesting that someone even considered to release a 45 in support of this, when most people who were attracted to this were in praise of the album format. If anything, a nice curio, radio edit style.

Larry Coryell-The Great Escape (Single Version) (4.1mb)
Larry Coryell-Gypsy Queen (Single Version) (4mb)

No comments: