16th notes in heaven

By Dennis Hartley


Larry Coryell 1943-2017

Tough as it was for the music world last year, I can’t blame it on 2016 anymore. For those “of a certain age”, I guess this is how it will be for us, going forward. The icons of an entire  generation are fading fast.

From Rolling Stone:

Larry Coryell, one of jazz fusion’s pioneering guitarists, died Sunday in his New York City hotel room of natural causes, according to his publicist. He had played gigs on Friday and Saturday night at the city’s Iridium club and had a spate of summer tour dates on the horizon with his group the Eleventh House. He was 73.

In the mid-to-late Sixties, Coryell broke down genre barriers with his eclectic, fluid playing and experiments with melding plodding rock rhythms with spacious jazz chords…


As a guitar player myself, I have to say Coryell was one of the gods. Not that I am in any way shape or form equating my abilities with his; he was gifted  with supernatural talent (to re-coin a phrase, I’m not worthy). Whether playing blistering runs with his electric outfit The Eleventh House, or finger picking beautiful solo acoustic numbers, he displayed  flawless virtuosity on his instrument.

I had the pleasure of seeing Coryell perform at a club in L.A. in the mid-70s (either the Roxy or the Troubadour). It was a solo acoustic show; and I remember being absolutely gobsmacked by his chops. I also remember watching his fingers very closely (it didn’t take).

As Jimi Hendrix once said, play on, brother. Play on…

(h/t Kevin C.)

2 thoughts on “16th notes in heaven”

  1. I saw him around the same time (probably 1977-8),also solo acoustic, at the late Cellar Door in DC (a 200-seat marvel of a venue). If memory serves, Earl Klugh opened. We could probably trade superlative verbiage, but “gobsmacked” is colorfully precise. That club did my young guitar brain serious damage, as I also saw Pat Martino there, and was three feet away from Eddie Gomez’s hands at a Bill Evans gig. Took a couple of decades before I stopped caring I’d never be there as a player. Funny how these things shake memories loose – I realize now that the Coryell gig was the fist time I’d seen someone command the stage with only a guitar, no vocals. Wish I had seen him plugged in….

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