Larry Coryell: Last Swing for Ireland – Raucous, blues-soaked fusion

Fri, May 28, 2021, 05:00


Last Swing with Ireland

Larry Coryell

Angel Air


Celebrated US fusion guitarist Larry Coryell wasn’t to know that his last studio recording would be made one day in May 2016 in the Dublin mountains. But this set of tunes recorded in Hellfire Studios, running from choice standards to open-ended jazz-rock blow-outs, reads a lot like a retrospective of his illustrious career.

Coryell, regarded as one of the founding fathers of jazz-rock fusion in the 1960s, became a regular visitor to Ireland in the last years of his life. He developed a particular rapport with the top Dublin rhythm section of bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Kevin Brady. 

The album opens with a tender reading of Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood, including a wonderful solo cadenza recalling the guitarist’s early influences, Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel. Similarly retrospective versions of the Brazilian classic Morning of the Carnival and Parker’s Relaxin’ at the Camarillo trace the arc of Coryell’s development, before the album’s two incendiary closers, improvised on the day, capture the guitarist’s raucous, blues- soaked fusion in all its glory. 

Redmond and Brady find the delicate balance between supporting the leader and adding their own voices, contributing to a fascinating late portrait of one of jazz’s great virtuoso guitarists who, a year before his death at 73, had lost none of the muscular inventiveness that marked his long career.