Personnel: Larry Coryell (guitar, bass); Steve Marcus (soprano saxophone); Randy Brecker (trumpet); Mike Mandel (piano, synthesizer); John McLaughlin (guitar); Danny Trifan, Chuck Rainey, Mervin Bronson, Albert Stinson, Miroslav Vitous (bass); Alphonse Mouzon, Bernard Purdie, Harry Wilkinson, Elvin Jones, Bob Moses, Billy Cobham (drums).
Producers: Danny Weiss, Larry Coryell, Jack Lothrop.
Engineers include: Dave Baker, Jeff Zaraya, Randy Rand.
Recorded between 1968 and 1973.
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. ~ Alex Henderson