Larry Coryell was born 2 April, 1943 in Galveston, Texas. As a child he studied and played piano, switching to guitar (acoustic, and then electric) in his teens. After studying journalism at the University of Washington, he moved to New York City in 1965, where he played behind guitarist Gabor Szabo in drummer Chico Hamilton’s jazz quintet. However, by 1966, he had replaced Szabo and later that same year went on to record his vinyl debut with Hamilton’s band. Also in 1966 he co-founded an early jazz-rock band, the Free Spirits, with whom he recorded one album, 1966’s rare, Free Spirit: Out Of Sight And Sound. Soon after his stint with the Free Spirits he joined vibra-harpist Gary Burton’s band, recording with him three seminal albums, all of which are now long out of print. In 1969 he recorded Memphis Underground with flautist Herbie Mann whose band, at that time, included Roy Ayers and the influential free-jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock. Also in 1969, before recording his first solo LP, he toured Europe and the U.S. with ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce, ex-Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, as well as keyboardist and future Coryell side-man Mike Mandel.
Throughout the seventies he released album after album, often playing alongside the very best jazz had to offer. Some of the heavy-weights include: guitarists John McLaughlin, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Paco De Lucia, Pat Metheny, Al Di Meola, John Abercrombie, Larry Carlton, John Scofield, Kazumi Watanabe, Ralph Towner, and Steve Kahn; drummers Billy Cobham, Elvin Jones, Steve Gadd, Lenny White, Mitch Mitchell and Tony Williams; alto sax player David Sanborn, tenor sax players Pharoah Sanders and Michael Brecker; soprano sax players Sonny Rollins and Steve Lacy, cornet player Don Cherry, trumpet players Maynard Ferguson and Randy Brecker; violinist Stephane Grappelli, keyboardists Chick Corea, Larry Young, David Sancious and Lyle Mays; and bassists Charles Mingus, Miroslav Vitous, Ron Carter, Eddie Gomez, Jack Bruce, Jimmy Garrison, Charlie Haden, Steve Swallow and Tony Levin.
When Larry Coryell recorded the sides gathered on this 70-minute CD, fusion was still a new and radical idea -- and the guitarist was one of the adventurers who did more than his part to get the ball rolling. Coryell's diehard followers will be familiar with most of this material, but for novices, The Essential Larry Coryell can serve as a splendid introduction to his Vanguard output. This diverse compilation ranges from 1968's landmark "Stiffneck" (a duet with drummer Elvin Jones that is among the earliest examples of fusion) to the abrasive, Jimi Hendrix-influenced "The Jam with Albert" to the haunting "Spaces (Infinite)," which unites Coryell with another very influential fusion guitarist: John McLaughlin. It's hard to miss Miles Davis' influence on "Yin," a gem underscoring the initial excellence of Coryell's Eleventh House. But even so, there's no mistaking the fact that Coryell was very much a visionary in his own right.
"Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art." - CHARLIE PARKER