Larry Coryell (1943-2017)

American jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, “The Godfather of Fusion”, has passed away at the age 73, Sunday.

The Galveston, Texas native – who grew up in Seattle, Washington – is considered a pioneer of jazz-rock, bringing jazz electric guitar playing in the 1960s to the forefront. His playing described as “hard-edged, cutting tone, phrasing and note-bending that owed as much to blues, rock and even country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences.”

The guitarist relocated to New York, where he studied classical guitar at the Mannes School of Music. He soon went on to join the Chico Hamilton’s quintet, replacing Gabor Szabo. In the late 60s, he recorded with vibraphonist Gary Burton, and flutist Herbie Mann. Also during the mid-1960s he played with the Free Spirits.

By 1968, he released two solo albums: Lady Coryell and Coryell. And in ’69, acclaimed Spaces, featuring John McLaughlin.

Coryell was heavily influenced by Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry, along with John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery, and released more than 60 solo albums throughout his career.

Coryell played his last two shows over the weekend at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club.

The icon was featured during JAZZ.FM91’s Sound of Jazz concert series in 2014 at the Old Mill Toronto, which will run on February 25th in his honour.