Jazz guitar great Larry Coryell’s affinity for Detroit dates back to before he started playing — and, in fact, before he was even born.
“My mother was born in Detroit,” says Coryell, 66, who was born in Galveston, Texas, and now resides in Orlando, Fla. He was in town over Labor Day weekend to perform at this year’s Detroit International Jazz Festival.
“Detroit has always been a great town for jazz. It’s always been a really good place to go and play, get our spirits revived. The people there are knowledgeable, but they don’t have that blasé approach like they have in L.A., that ‘What have you done for me lately?’ attitude. They’re still enthusiastic about the music.”
Coryell acknowledges that he’s “driven my fans crazy over the years by switching styles” during his nearly 45-year career. And he’s doing it again now; his latest project, which he’s been working on for the past two years, is an album of compositions for guitar and string quartet, exploring a commonality he finds between jazz and classical styles.
“I’m pretty sure from what I’ve read that Beethoven and Mozart were improvisers,” says Coryell, who will be performing with a trio next week at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grosse Pointe Farms. “I want to find a good string quartet and come up with something new. Once you start feeling really good with a group and the interacting takes place, as the leader of the group you can start taking liberties.
“It’s very hard, what I’m trying to do. I’m a little bit nervous about how it’s going to sound, because I haven’t had a chance to get it out in front of people or even in the studio yet. I still have to be me, and I haven’t found out how to be me in that context. That search is what’s fueling me now.”
Larry Coryell performs Wednesday (Dec. 9) through Saturday (Dec. 12) at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, 97 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms. Sets are 6 and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday with a $30 cover and 6, 8 and 10 p.m. Dec. 11-12 with a $40 cover. Call (313) 882-5299 or visit www.dirtydogjazz.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to