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Interview:
Jazz Guitarist Happy With Elder Statesman Role
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Larry Coryell has had a dizzying career, spanning 35 years, more than 70 jazz and classical albums, and collaborations with a gamut of artists including Gary Burton, Charles Mingus, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce and the Brecker Brothers.

At 64, the Texas-born guitarist, who now resides in Orlando, Fla., is something of an elder statesman, but that’s not a mantle he wears easily.

“I don’t really feel that, but I know what you mean,” says Coryell, who surveys his career — including years of debilitating substance abuse — in a memoir called “Improvising: My Life in Music.” “I think I have an obligation to generate (music) and to fulfill that role because of my age and my experience.

“But I still feel like a student, too.”

Coryell’s latest releases display that kind of continuing creative quest, whether it’s the 2004 trio outing “Tricycles” or collaborations with the Mioslav Vitous Quartet and fellow jazz cats Victor Bailey and Lenny White. “There’s so much to do,” he notes. “You never have to stay in the same place too long.”

Coryell has both jazz and classical pieces on his plate for the future, too. He’s in the midst of reducing a Beethoven string quartet composition into a solo guitar treatment and is considering works by other composers such as Bach and Ravel, plus possibly some of his own pieces. Before that, however, he’ll release another trio project — with drummer Paul Wertico and organist Sam Yahel — which will be a tribute to forebears Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery.

“I love Wes, and I love Jimmy, so (the music) is in that spirit,” says Coryell, who’s also been working with his wife, Tracey, a singer. “We went into the studio and played some blues, and we played some blues — and then we played some more blues.

“It’s a really enjoyable project that pays tribute to some great musicians and their music, which is part of what I feel like I’m here to do as well as creating my own.”



Larry Coryell performs at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Dec. 7 and 8), and 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 9) at Arturo’s Jazz Theatre & Restaurant, 25333 W. 12 Mile Road, Southfield. Tickets are $25 for the early shows, $17.50 for the late shows. Call (248) 357-6009 or visit www.arturosjazz.com.

Web Site: www.arturosjazz.com

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