photo by Larry Appelbaum
Unlike some wary musicians, guitarist Larry Coryell seemed to really enjoy the Before & After experience. In between selections, we talked about his 40-year recording career, lessons learned from working with Gary Burton and Jimmy Smith, his role as a jazz-rock fusion pioneer, his current power trio with Paul Wertico and Mark Egan, the shrinking jazz record industry, global politics and a recent fascination with Abraham Lincoln. His 2007 autobiography Improvisation: My Life In Music has been published by Hal Leonard, along with a retrospective print folio of Coryell compositions.
1. Tal Farlow
“Gibson Boy” (from Legends of Guitar Jazz Vol. 1, Rhino) Farlow, Barry Galbraith, guitars; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Joe Morello, drums. Recorded in 1954.
Before: It’s beautiful. Yeah! That’s Tal. [listens, chuckles] I sat with his records when I was 16 years old. He and Jimmy Raney had no text book, they just lived in New York and tried to play like Bird. I cut my teeth on that guy; His tone, his time feeling, his ideas. Tal Farlow was one of the greatest musicians in the world. but he was off the scene during the revolution, the revolution that I helped start in the middle 1960s. After he came back I went to see him in a small club in New York and George Benson was there that same night. I talked to him and I related to him a lot of things I had read about his life on the back of his albums and he said, “Oh, those are just fables.” Later on we hung out and did a bit of jamming. I showed him some of the tunes and solos I had learned off his records, he was flattered and pleased. His intro to “Yesterdays” was amazing. His entire solo on “Autumn In New York,” I carried that with me forever. That really shaped my ballad playing, it’s still with me today. That’s not even a song. That’s a composition.
After: Oh, I love Barry Galbraith. He was so humble. He made a good living as a studio musician and at that time in the middle to late 50s, that’s all I wanted to do, be a studio musician. I grew up in the sticks, man. I just wanted to make a living. I wanted to be like Barney Kessel and Kenny Burrell and Barry Galbraith.