Spaces Larry Coryell

£7.43

Availablity:
World
Genre:
Fusion
Label:
Vanguard
Format:
CD
Catalogue Id:
VMD 79345

Generally seen as Larry Coryell's best-known work, this 1970 album has more than stood the test of time. Cut the year before with one of the richest line-ups you could imagine, it featured Larry playing alongside John McLaughlin on second guitar, Chick Corea on electric piano, Miroslav Vitous on bass and Billy Cobham on drums. “Spaces” was an apt title for, not only was it the title of the opening track, it also suggested the nature of the musical landscape on which the players were operating. In the best traditions of jazz, the material was structured for extension and improvisation, and gave them space to listen to each other and to play off each other. As the Rolling Stone review at the time put it, "Coryell generally delivers more rapid-fire strings of notes, while McLaughlin leaves more spaces and is perhaps more into texture, but each player jumps into the other’s most characteristic territory on numerous occasions." It is indeed the quick-fire interchanges between the two that really lift this album to the status it has always enjoyed, as each one picks up on the moods and feels generated by the other. They swap lines frenetically on Larry's own tune ‘Wrong Is Right’, sounding almost scattershot at times, though on the following track, ‘Chris’, it is their lyricism that leads the way on what is the most open-ended improvised piece here. Before these two they had delightfully re-created the feels and swing stylings of Django Reinhardt on the acoustic ‘Rene's Theme’, and gentler explorations on ‘Gloria's Step’ that also develop into a haunting vehicle for Miroslav Vitous on bass as he joins the improvisations.

Initially the album's tone had been set by ‘Spaces (Infinite)’, to give it its full credited title.  Here the musical themes are dramatically stated at the outset, with some comparatively grandiose melodic steps, but then the whole thing shifts gear as Larry's guitar begins to lead from the front, urging the others to follow and opens things up into new and more urgent territory. It signals the album as a challenge, and almost dares the listened to follow, with its exuberance ensuring that they will. It covers much ground in its nine minutes, with time shifts and spaces allowing mood changes that unsettle and excite the listener in equal measure. And then there follows the rest of the tracks that expand and extend these stimulating beginnings as the players swoop and move around each other in ways that are always unexpected. At the end, and as if to confirm the unexpected, the album signs off with a pretty though brief twenty-second run of guitar notes called ‘New Year's Day In Los Angeles 1968’, an effective and thoughtful coda to the album that would certainly have left the audience upbeat and wanting more, which indeed they got with ensuing Coryell albums, but this is the key point where it all started.

 

Track listing

Side 1

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