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  1. #1

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    I know this is a childish question (sort of like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones). But I have to ask: which guitarist do you prefer -- John or Larry?

    I grew up on a steady diet of listening to John McLaughlin. Discovered him in my early youth when I bought Mahavishnu Orchestra "Birds of Fire", and fell in love with that music and his guitar playing.

    At that time, the only other guitarist who could rival McLaughlin was Coryell (with the possible second runner John Abercrombie). But due to the weaker songwriting chops compared to McLaughlin, Larry failed to establish himself as the guitar god in the 1970s.

    But listening to all those old recordings today, it is becoming more and more apparent what an incredible monster of a guitarist Larry was. Technically, he is no doubt a peer to McLaughlin, but Larry seemed to be pushing the envelope harder than John. Larry's playing is more experimental, more innovative, edgier and raunchier. Plus, he sounds more rooted in the blues.

    My favourite McLaughlin album is "Extrapolation". No wonder Miles Davis went with John's approach to guitar upon hearing that incredible LP. But at the same time, it is quite surprising that Miles would ignore Larry, who at that time was blazing the trail with his proto punk/jazz guitar stylings.

    So to cut the long story short, today I admire McLaughlin for his compositional skills, but prefer Coryell for his sheer passion and almost anarchic approach to guitar playing.

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  3. #2

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    I do listen to Coryell more because I just find his albums to me more "edgier and raunchier" and sometimes I want that (since I tend to listen to 50's players like Tal, Jimmy and Barney, or the 60s guys like Wes and Grant).

    I have seen Coryell often from the early days back in the 70s to right up to a few years back. He clearly grew as a guitar player. My local circle of amateur jazz guitarist often say that we sound like 'early Larry', but sadly we still do! (the main reason being we were all rock guitar players before moving on to jazz).

    I saw Coryell with Jimmy Smith, in what was to be one of Smith's last gigs. Smith had to be helped to sit at the organ and only played a few songs but it was magic. I talked to Larry during the break and he said he was so happy he was called to sit in with one of the greats of jazz.

    Of course
    I admire McLaughlin but his recording don't move me as much. Some of that has to do with his sound. Often it just blends in to much with the other musicians creating that 'wall of sound' effect.

  4. #3
    Last edited by jbernstein91; 01-26-2018 at 06:45 PM.

  5. #4

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    With this set of choices I prefer McLaughlin; for some reason I have just never been able to connect to Coryell's playing. I don't know why. But neither of them are in my top ten favorite guitarists. I tend to prefer guitarists with a swinging feel. I don't actually think of either McLaughlin or Coryell as "jazz" guitarists as such- they plowed their own furrows without a lot of regard for labels, sometimes touching on jazz and often something else (not unlike Holdsworth in that regard). Gotta respect that.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  6. #5

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    While Coryell had a rock\blues feel to his early playing, most of the songs on his albums were jazz standards played with jazz musicians, in a traditional manner.

    E.g. I recommend Together with Emily Remier, Shining Hour, Monk, Trane, Miles and Me, Equipoise and Toku Do as just a few of his jazz albums most for Concord records (the label for many fine jazz guitarist).

    Now his solo acoustic guitar albums can't really be categorized. E.g. his playing isn't like Joe Pass and his solo albums and of course he did do many fusion albums.

  7. #6

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    coryell was first...already in nyc when mclaughlin was still in uk... coryell was using fuzz n wah with super 400 while mclaughlin was still using acoustic w dearmond soundhole pup..

    bigger difference was- coryell was a party.....mclaughlin was spiritual...different moves

    spaces (which was considered an early fusion classic) with coryell & mclaughlin.... was coryells deal... via his label - vanguard records

    here's good info

    Larry Coryell and Miles Davis

    two greats...

    abercrombie was later...sonny sharrock was around tho...and coryell dug gabor szabo

    cheers

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal View Post
    While Coryell had a rock\blues feel to his early playing, most of the songs on his albums were jazz standards played with jazz musicians, in a traditional manner.

    E.g. I recommend Together with Emily Remier, Shining Hour, Monk, Trane, Miles and Me, Equipoise and Toku Do as just a few of his jazz albums most for Concord records (the label for many fine jazz guitarist).

    Now his solo acoustic guitar albums can't really be categorized. E.g. his playing isn't like Joe Pass and his solo albums and of course he did do many fusion albums.
    Both Coryell and McLaughlin had their weird phase when they were flirting with 'soft jazz'. I think it started happening in the latter half of 1980s and then spilled into the 1990s (that happened probably because of the increased pressure from the record labels execs). Coryell managed to bounce back with his "Spaces Revisited" in 1997, but McLaughlin had a long and painful stretch of 'snooze fest' docile synth guitar sound, from which he barely recovered.

    Luckily, his most recent rebound with Mahavishnu Orchestra revisited has him playing regular electric guitar, proving that he is indeed in a very fine form. Despite being well into his seventies, McLaughlin is still on fire. Amazing!

  9. #8

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    I can't listen to either. I've tried, and I cannot like either of them.

  10. #9

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    I think Larry was the first international fusion/jazz-rock player I saw live. My 17 year-old self was deeply impressed, and I copped a few of his licks as well as I could.

    But then what happened to him? They say d&d.

    Whereas John got more and more focused on exploring the music.

    John just kept on and keeps on growing.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    coryell was first...already in nyc when mclaughlin was still in uk... coryell was using fuzz n wah with super 400 while mclaughlin was still using acoustic w dearmond soundhole pup..

    bigger difference was- coryell was a party.....mclaughlin was spiritual...different moves

    spaces (which was considered an early fusion classic) with coryell & mclaughlin.... was coryells deal... via his label - vanguard records

    here's good info

    Larry Coryell and Miles Davis

    two greats...

    abercrombie was later...sonny sharrock was around tho...and coryell dug gabor szabo

    cheers
    You are right -- Coryell was more of a party animal vibe, while McLaughlin was all about self discipline.

    But Coryell was more than that -- he had many interesting aspects to his music. One of my favourite things in his music is the variety and richness of sonic textures he was able to squeeze out of the steel string acoustic guitars. No one to my knowledge comes close to that level of interesting and intriguing acoustic guitar textures. I often ask myself when listening to Larry's acoustic numbers: "how's he doing that?" Not only is the chord voicing weird and unorthodox, the actual sonic palette is hugely original and innovative.

    McLaughlin had never explored those aspects of acoustic guitars (despite having modded his Shakti guitar to include scalloped fretboard and sympathetic strings). Also, McLaughlin never bothered to explore artificial harmonics to the extent Larry had. We could safely say that Coryell was one of the greatest masters of playing artificial harmonics on the guitar. Such innovation, such grace and speed.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by sinequanon View Post
    Both Coryell and McLaughlin had their weird phase when they were flirting with 'soft jazz'. I think it started happening in the latter half of 1980s and then spilled into the 1990s (that happened probably because of the increased pressure from the record labels execs). Coryell managed to bounce back with his "Spaces Revisited" in 1997, but McLaughlin had a long and painful stretch of 'snooze fest' docile synth guitar sound, from which he barely recovered.

    Luckily, his most recent rebound with Mahavishnu Orchestra revisited has him playing regular electric guitar, proving that he is indeed in a very fine form. Despite being well into his seventies, McLaughlin is still on fire. Amazing!
    yeah but John was past that 80's stuff in the 90's (by definition and otherwise). and yeah he is still on fire, saw him recently.

  13. #12

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    I love em both.

    Coryell had a lot of variety in his playing, as noted above. Saw him only twice. Had a brief and nice chat. I loved Tricyles - Downbeat gave it 4 stars and opined that he was "at the top of his game". But despite his incredible range he was also limited, as every player is to one degree or another. We all have our cliches.

    McLaughlin towers over everyone.

  14. #13

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    coryell...in 71..in hendrix nyc studio electric ladyland....coverin a gabor szabo tune...

    jazz with modern rock production edge...ahead of its time

    even miles teo macero was old school




    cheers

  15. #14

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    I’m a fan of both. I was reintroduced to Larry’s playing when Tricycles came out and had to get all his recordings after that, where I was a McLaughlin for a long time. I was fortunate to have met Larry and jam with him briefly. Larry was recorded In so many different genres and I am still inspired by it all. He is missed..


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  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    yeah but John was past that 80's stuff in the 90's (by definition and otherwise). and yeah he is still on fire, saw him recently.
    McLaughlin's use of Photon synth in the '90s was for some of us an unwelcome veiling of his formidable tone. I'd much prefer if he recorded "Que Alegria" without the annoying synth overlaying his nylon string playing. Then with Free Spirits and Remember Shakti, his guitar tone was always for some reason smeared with some digital processing, which muffled his trademark picking attack. Same was with his Fourth Dimension band (I saw them live on tour in Seattle in 2011 -- same annoying digi-processed tone. Why oh why?)

    It is only recently that he finally decided to ditch his Macbook and to plug directly into the real, fire-breathing tube amps again. It felt like eating organic food again after decades of eating crappy processed GMO mock food. Thank goodness for him returning to his organic roots -- now he sounds again like the McLaughlin we all knew and admired

  17. #16

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    I prefer John McLaughlin.

  18. #17

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    In the moment I preferred McLaughlin, but a few years ago I heard Coryell play with Joey DeFrancesco and liked his playing more than anything else I had heard from him.

  19. #18

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    I used to see them both. A lot. Larry's band with Alphonse Mouson, the Eleventh House was his corner of fusion when it was still young, and a contemporary of the Mahavishnu orchestra of McLaughlin. Both were really exciting bands live and both of those guys had the fusion world in their hands.
    Yeah I was young then too and I used to wonder "Who do I like more? Which is the better band? Who's the better guitarist?" and back then you know, they were both cocky and kind of arrogant brash and brazen guys who loved the world of rock and brought it to the improvisational post Coltrane world.
    At that time, the Eleventh House had tunes that were catchier, easier for me to relate to and understand, but honestly, I always felt at that point they were always watching Cobham, Jan Hammer, Rick Laird and Jerry Goodman with John and doing their version of the ground that was being broken by them.

    I'll tell you one thing though, Larry's band was more fun to listen to live. I have NEVER gone to a Mahavishnu Orchestra concert, inside or outside (THey'd open the summer concert series at Wollman rink NY each year and they'd always do it for free!) where I could hear anything but a distorted mess. They were WAY too loud. ALWAYS.

    McLaughlin aged better, continued to grow and didn't succumb to the destructive forces of unchecked ego and substance abuse. I had a number of encounters with both of them in later years, and John always left me with a feeling of joy. Larry was profoundly sad. Maybe it was bad timing in his life but I do wish he'd continued to find and share the creative energy I'd heard in him back in the 70's.

    Having known their body of work and seen them live, felt the experience of knowing them as living musicians, there's no contest. They both made more than one person's life contribution to the musical world we know now. Can't say I like either of them more. It's a walk in the forest; maple or oak? Both their presence was essential to me, and an equal part of what was an amazing growing story.

    David

  20. #19

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    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  21. #20

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    I studied with Larry privately at his place for about four years. Larry overcame his demons many years ago and was a devout Buddhist. I played his memorial here in Orlando at his Buddhist worship center where he was adored by all. He was an amazing teacher who became a friend. Our lessons could stretch up to four hours. I have recordings of some lessons where he was simply beyond. Not just shredding. His knowledge of harmony and music was incredible. As well as stories of recording with Miles, hanging with Monk, Hendrix...on and on. He would probably dismiss being compared with John. They were friends and compatriots in a very exciting time for jazz and the birth of jazz fusion. BTW, Al Dimeola calls Larry the "Godfather of Fusion."
    Last edited by jaco; 01-28-2018 at 02:56 PM.

  22. #21

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    I heard both in the 70's when I first got into jazz. Larry's playing was more blues oriented and as I was, at that time a blues oriented rock player, Larry's playing reached me in a way that John's playing did not. In 2007, I got to play 2 concerts with Larry and spent the better part of 4 days hanging out with him. He was a genius, make no mistake about it. Larry and I were both in awe of Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass and shared stories of how those two guitarists affected us deeply and changed our lives.

    Larry came first in the evolution of fusion. John had more discipline and also did not suffer from the same drug and alcohol abuse as did Larry. As a result, John did better, career wise. But for me, Larry will be the biggest guitar hero. That said, I will always be awed by John's playing as well. Better? That word is not applicable in this comparison. Different is the appropriate word in this context.
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    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  23. #22

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    John McLaughlin...because I first heard him when I was young, I didn't hear Larry until much later.




    .

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
    That's an interesting clip, thanks for sharing. I personally think McLaughlin had played many much more impressive solos than the one in the above clip, still it showcases nicely the essence of his improvisational style.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by sinequanon View Post
    That's an interesting clip, thanks for sharing. I personally think McLaughlin had played many much more impressive solos than the one in the above clip, still it showcases nicely the essence of his improvisational style.
    :-) I was really just trying to show that there might be more harmony between John and Larry than there is between opinions about Larry and John on this forum.

    I think there are also clips from this concert that feature Larry, and let's not forget Paco de Lucia.

    The Spanish influence on John is profound and well documented. When Miles connected the jazz tradition with the Spanish tradition on Sketches of Spain, John went nuts.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  26. #25

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    I preferred Larry, got exposed to him early. He was deep in the east coast scene, that must have been like a hurricane in the mid 60s...Coltrane, modern/progressive jazz, Hendrix...he was in the thick of it, heady times for guitar. Not bad for a Texas boy. Starting out as a member of Chico Hamilton's band (as was Jim Hall, Gabor Szabo) then on to Gary Burton as one of his impressive guitar alumni. Not a bad launching pad.

    I personally find his body of work to be a bit more vast, eclectic, adventurous and raw than John's, but there were many parallels between the two, as guys pushing the boundaries of guitar and music. Preferring Larry doesn't cast any shadow on John. These were deeply thinking, intellectual musicians who helped pave the modern way.

    Both have a reverence for Wes and Coltrane. That's what I'm talking about.

    LC in 1967...breaking ground with Gary Burton before the electric fusion...


  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Not bad for a Texas boy.
    Both have a reverence for Wes and Coltrane. That's what I'm talking about.
    I love your posts cosmicgumbo. And agree Larry's not bad for a Texas boy. I guess most US guys don't know that Texas is the US equivalent of Yorkshire - and both John and Allan Holdsworth are Yorkshire boys.

    But we're talking about music - ART - rather than geography.

    There are so many ways to talk about this for older guys like us CG.

    Here's one way - when I was young I could copy some of LC, JM no way, AH - forget about it (even according to JM).

    I owe John a big favour (and the punks). They both gave me good reasons to give up being pro (for different reasons). And I earnt a lot more money: I mean a lot more money than John and Johnny Rotten. Maybe sad but true.

    Now, when I see artists as diverse as John McLaughlin and Jimmy Bruno saying the same thing as each other about the demise of jazz (in different ways) I really wonder if the young guys aspiring to be pro know which way the wind is blowing, has blown, and will blow in the future - especially the future.

    And for all you "teacher" guys (sorry, I mean "persons", but as a group you're usually macho in a middle class sort of way, and male in biology) haunting this forum for business, some more intelligently than others, some more expert than others, some more altruistically than others, some more opportunistically than others, and some more incompetently than others: you all know (well some of you may be too inexperienced to know) that if jazz was alive today you'd be too busy to be here.
    Last edited by sunnysideup; 01-29-2018 at 08:20 AM.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
    :-) I was really just trying to show that there might be more harmony between John and Larry than there is between opinions about Larry and John on this forum.

    I think there are also clips from this concert that feature Larry, and let's not forget Paco de Lucia.

    The Spanish influence on John is profound and well documented. When Miles connected the jazz tradition with the Spanish tradition on Sketches of Spain, John went nuts.
    True. I remember when in my early youth I met John McLaughlin when he was touring with the original guitar trio. I had seen them in February 1979 with Larry, but this time they had just replaced Larry with Al Dimeola. I remarked to John how Al seems to fit better with the high octane 'day at the races' approach to guitar playing that him and Paco were touting at that time. John disagreed, and told me that he prefers Larry because (and I'm quoting): "Larry has certain tenderness in his playing that is precious and unique."

    So John had a lot of love for Larry's playing, evidently.

  29. #28

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  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
    I love your posts cosmicgumbo. And agree Larry's not bad for a Texas boy. I guess most US guys don't know that Texas is the US equivalent of Yorkshire - and both John and Allan Holdsworth are Yorkshire boys.

    But we're talking about music - ART - rather than geography.

    There are so many ways to talk about this for older guys like us CG.

    Here's one way - when I was young I could copy some of LC, JM no way, AH - forget about it (even according to JM).

    I owe John a big favour (and the punks). They both gave me good reasons to give up being pro (for different reasons). And I earnt a lot more money: I mean a lot more money than John and Johnny Rotten. Maybe sad but true.

    Now, when I see artists as diverse as John McLaughlin and Jimmy Bruno saying the same thing as each other about the demise of jazz (in different ways) I really wonder if the young guys aspiring to be pro know which way the wind is blowing, has blown, and will blow in the future - especially the future.

    And for all you "teacher" guys (sorry, I mean "persons", but as a group you're usually macho in a middle class sort of way, and male in biology) haunting this forum for business, some more intelligently than others, some more expert than others, some more altruistically than others, some more opportunistically than others, and some more incompetently than others: you all know (well some of you may be too inexperienced to know) that if jazz was alive today you'd be too busy to be here.
    I tried being a pro guitarist in my early 20's and saw a life of poverty and disappointment ahead. I chose to pursue two "day job" careers and made enough money to retire young (48) and resume being a pro guitarist. At 60, I am living the good life, gigging about 200 nights a year (all jazz and all paid, no tip jar gigs for me). Jazz might be on life support, but she is not dead. Perhaps she will come back one day. Until then, I will keep playing classic jazz and hope to inspire young guitarists to keep the flame alive.

    Here is a video from one of the concerts I did with Larry Coryell in 2007 (for the guitar geeks among us, I was playing my L-5 Wesmo and my Dupont Selmer style guitar). The gal singing in one of the tracks is Larry's wife Tracey. Larry was playing a Parker acoustic):
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  31. #30

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    Big McLaughlin fan, not so much a Coryell fan. But I do like Coryell's playing on Spaces more than JM's.

  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    I tried being a pro guitarist in my early 20's and saw a life of poverty and disappointment ahead. I chose to pursue two "day job" careers and made enough money to retire young (48) and resume being a pro guitarist. At 60, I am living the good life, gigging about 200 nights a year (all jazz and all paid, no tip jar gigs for me). Jazz might be on life support, but she is not dead. Perhaps she will come back one day. Until then, I will keep playing classic jazz and hope to inspire young guitarists to keep the flame alive.

    Here is a video from one of the concerts I did with Larry Coryell in 2007 (for the guitar geeks among us, I was playing my L-5 Wesmo and my Dupont Selmer style guitar). The gal singing in one of the tracks is Larry's wife Tracey. Larry was playing a Parker acoustic):
    Congratulations on sharing the stage with one and only Mr. Coryell!

    Btw, I love your tasteful licks. You're playing with a lot of class there.

  33. #32

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    the one category i'd definitely give maha mclaughlin the advantage, is singing...he had the good sense not to!!!

    larry actually thought he could...bad idea!




    ugh!! haha

    cheers

  34. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by zdub View Post
    Big McLaughlin fan, not so much a Coryell fan. But I do like Coryell's playing on Spaces more than JM's.
    I'v been a McLaughlin fan for much longer than I've been a Coryell fan. Today, I must say that Larry had a broader, more versatile approach to guitar than John. McLaughlin has developed a very unique, one of a kind finely honed guitar playing style and he never deviated from it. Despite the fact that he was involved in playing all kinds of different genres (rock-blues, jazz, Indian, flamenco, Brazilian, etc.) he basically always plays his trademark McLaughlin licks. His guitar solos tend to sound very similar, despite the variations of the underlying music styles.

    That's not necessarily a bad thing, but Larry tended not to repeat himself so much. Which is why these days I gravitate a bit more toward Larry's playing.

  35. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    the one category i'd definitely give maha mclaughlin the advantage, is singing...he had the good sense not to!!!

    larry actually thought he could...bad idea!




    ugh!! haha

    cheers
    I LOVE Larry's singing! He had a great singing voice, and it's a shame he didn't use it more.

  36. #35

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    Both JM and LC obviously did some great stuff, and also had a few boring phases too.
    There's so much difference betweent "what and where" they played, even with both being associated with some of the same styles.

    McLaughlin played with Miles, and Shakti <<<< these are significant factors in assessing the output for these two guitarist

    I understand why neither guitarist is universally loved the same or at all

    John

    **Just as an anecdote on Shakti, when they toured in the mid 70's you'd see the 4 main guys, but very often one or two uncredited young women seated slightly behind them on harmoniums. Once I was at a show, and recognized a girl (I had dated) and came to find out she had been working the theater as an usher, and got drafted into the harmonium seat during sound check. I see from old Shakti videos, even stuff like Montreaux had these uncredited accompanists, would not be surprised if it was a similar way they got the job (I'm guessing there was no/very limited working of the keyboards, they just seemed to pump away a droning sound that may have been preset for them.

  37. #36

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    Just a brief note on that extraordinary album - I got to play with Brian 'Bodger' Odges a bit doing jingles and, apologising for being nerdy, asked him about that session. He said that the two Johns knew what they were doing but he and Tony Oxley were basically winging it. There may have been some conversational modesty there but I said it turned out spectacularly well and he did agree. John Etheridge says Ginger Baker & Jack Bruce were scheduled to do it but got held up on Cream duties so maybe it was a late call but.. wow.

  38. #37

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    Larry did a tour "Jack Bruce and Friends" with Mitch Mitchell on drums. Imagine trying to fill those shoes of Clapton and Hendrix....right after Jimi had died and Cream had broke up. Larry was friends with Jimi and Clapton and had jammed with them both. But Larry had his own thing which is why I imagine he got the gig. According to his bio it was a drug fueled tour. I imagine a lot of them were back then. He did tell me at one lesson that "Eric was very jealous of Jimi'.

  39. #38

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  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
    :-) I was really just trying to show that there might be more harmony between John and Larry than there is between opinions about Larry and John on this forum.

    I think there are also clips from this concert that feature Larry, and let's not forget Paco de Lucia.

    The Spanish influence on John is profound and well documented. When Miles connected the jazz tradition with the Spanish tradition on Sketches of Spain, John went nuts.
    I asked Larry if he would do another album with McLaughlin... He said "He's got my number"

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by sinequanon View Post
    True. I remember when in my early youth I met John McLaughlin when he was touring with the original guitar trio. I had seen them in February 1979 with Larry, but this time they had just replaced Larry with Al Dimeola. I remarked to John how Al seems to fit better with the high octane 'day at the races' approach to guitar playing that him and Paco were touting at that time. John disagreed, and told me that he prefers Larry because (and I'm quoting): "Larry has certain tenderness in his playing that is precious and unique."

    So John had a lot of love for Larry's playing, evidently.
    Wow... Now that's really interesting... What a beautiful thing to say about Larry's playing... I wonder id Larry ever knew that John said that?...

  42. #41

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    I love both Larry and John... When I met Larry at My Father's Place in Roslyn NY, around 1977, we became good friends... I went on to study and play with him... Here's a video of Larry playing my LCS guitar... He came to my house and gave it to me after Joe Beck played it at a gig that night... Larry was a one of a kind man and musician... I knew him for 38 years... He played guitar in my living room in Islip, NY... Here's a video of Larry at my house in 2004... I loved the guy... I'm still in shock and saddened that we can't talk and play anymore...


  43. #42

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    As a listener I was introduced to both in the fusion era. I was still a kid back then, who like a lot of kids loved and idolized the rock guitar gods of the era: Clapton, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, etc. I was also a young student of the saxophone, so I was also listening to Coltrane a lot, and so aware of the relative simplicity of the scales and chords used in rock vs. what jazz players use.

    Hearing both these guys for the first time was a revelation: who knew that a guitar *could* be played like that? Not were they venturing far beyond the blues-based changes and scales of the rock guys, but they were doing it at tempos that were hard to comprehend, and with smoothness and fluidity.

    I've listed to most of the music from both these great players over their long and varied careers. I had a chance to see Larry Coryell in a small nightclub in Italy and he was amazing. Sadly, I haven't yet seen John. I love a lot of the more acoustic or straight-ahead jazz, or even Shakti era stuff, it's all fantastic music.

    But, if we are going to have a VS. topic (as we are) then it's going to come back to the jazz fusion era in my mind. When they were the hottest hands in town, both leaders in a movement that created a new musical genre, largely to accommodate and showcase their amazing talents, who, finally was the champ? So it's Seventh House era Coryell vs. Miles and Mahavishnu era McLaughlin.

    McLaughlin comes out fast and hard. He's gone very far from the norms and cliches of blues based guitar, while internalizing the power and tone of the rock players, particularly Hendrix. In his quest to be the Coltrane of guitar he's learned to play the arppegiated chords-as scales that Coltrane used a basic foundation, it sounds almost alien at times. Listen to his solo on Mile's Davis's "Big Fun" - even given that it's been extensively post-processed by producer Teo Maceo, it's an incredible thing. At once deeply fragmented, shredded, broken but still melodic and thematic.

    Coryell counters with incredible lyricism at a fractal level. The speed of his playing turns small melodies into figures that fly up and down, and then explode out in a different direction all together. The blues is an ever-present factor, but it's been pushed out, extended, and re-configured to provide the basic atomic level components of something much different. There is an exhibitionists shamelessness in the pure joy that his own mastery gives him, listen to the live cut Joyride from his Live at Montreaux album. There is resolution, too. The sly quote from Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun", the acknowledgement and incorporation of all that has come before.

    McLaughlin came close to doing a head-cutting session on record, the fantastic album: Love, Devotion, Surrender. And while it's all flower-power, Hindu gurus and white suits up front, once we get to the black vinyl their's not a lot of doubt that this one is for bragging rights, and maybe guitar pink-slips. The album opens with A Love Supreme which features a fantastic seven or eight rounds of traded 16 bar dueling solos, that feature a lot of call and response. Who wins that duel? My mind has changed on that question many times as I've listened to the record.

    It's fun to image a similar set up with John and Larry circa 1975, just after the recordings mentioned above. That's the John vs. Larry that seems like the ideal venue, with a band made up of the best-of-the-best from the cardre of jazz-rock fusion players that they had played with. It's hard for me to believe that Larry would not have won such a head-cutting session, at least to my ears.

  44. #43

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    My sense is that JM was always ahead of his time, one of the finest pair of ears on the planet, exploring different directions, inventing new directions. I began listening to him about the time I picked up the guitar and he was the strongest influence on me.

    "Extrapolation" was my introduction to Jazz, although I had no idea what kind of Jazz it was, still don't really know how to classify it. I have listened to it for almost 50 years and it is still one of my favorite records. It is a very improvisational record that never departs from being beautifully musical. JM's grasp of music and how it is expressed on the guitar.

    Mahavishnu Orchestra "Birds of Fire" and "Inner Mounting Flame" explored the conceptual boundaries of what can be crafted, almost like experimental tests of music which excelled. Many wonderful lessons to be learned in those. The second side of "My Goals Beyond" has acoustic jazz standards with chords I had never heard anyone ever use, amazing and wonderful. His "Apocalypse" is orchestral composing proper (London Symphony Orchestra, produced by George Martin, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas).
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

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    Larry Coryell is playing with Charles Mingus here. (The other guitarist is Philip Catherine.) I love this.

    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Larry Coryell is playing with Charles Mingus here. (The other guitarist is Philip Catherine.) I love this.

    Yeah! My introduction to Coryell. So physical sounding, got it right away.

    Larry had it all, attitude, chops, versatility, inventiveness.

    RIP, fellow Texan, Larry Coryell.

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    Unlike most people here, I really haven't listened much to Larry's work as a jazz guitarist but I was very influenced by his recordings on acoustic guitar of Scheherezade and Rite of Spring. Ironically, I believe these were jobs the record company assigned rather than passion projects of his.

    I recall a live 80s concert with Larry, Tal, Abercrombie, Scofield, and Carlton where I was more impressed with Abercrombie and Sco's solos, and it seemed to me at the time, that Larry was grandstanding in his solo by suddenly standing up and playing the same figure over and over across the changes to big audience applause. It kind of left me with a dismissive impression of him and perhaps this was unfair of me and I should listen freshly to more of his playing?

    McLaughlin, on the other hand, always leaves me cold. Playing the guitar like a typewriter just doesn't connect with me as a listener even though I respect his abilities and incredible focus. Of all his output, I liked his post-Shakti work with Indian musicians best. That music seems to mesh better with his approach than jazz does, at least in my opinion.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyV View Post
    Unlike most people here, I really haven't listened much to Larry's work as a jazz guitarist but I was very influenced by his recordings on acoustic guitar of Scheherezade and Rite of Spring. Ironically, I believe these were jobs the record company assigned rather than passion projects of his.

    I recall a live 80s concert with Larry, Tal, Abercrombie, Scofield, and Carlton where I was more impressed with Abercrombie and Sco's solos, and it seemed to me at the time, that Larry was grandstanding in his solo by suddenly standing up and playing the same figure over and over across the changes to big audience applause. It kind of left me with a dismissive impression of him and perhaps this was unfair of me and I should listen freshly to more of his playing?

    McLaughlin, on the other hand, always leaves me cold. Playing the guitar like a typewriter just doesn't connect with me as a listener even though I respect his abilities and incredible focus. Of all his output, I liked his post-Shakti work with Indian musicians best. That music seems to mesh better with his approach than jazz does, at least in my opinion.
    Most of the time when people say that Johnny Mac plays like a typewriter or machine gun etc. they're just jealous. The other thing is, they are so used to hearing non-virtuosity on the guitar that they don't know how to listen to it when they hear it. It can take a while to get it. There is no model, he is the model.

    Chick Corea was correct, when you asses the virtuosity and the improvisational mastery no one else can really do what he does, and never could. He can play softly like anyone else. But he can also play/improvise explosively, for extended solos, and do it for hours on end. I've seen him do it. After his career is over, and on those two measures, it will be a very long time before he is matched.

    Finally, he plays modal stuff so it's not sing songy. That leaves some listeners a bit cold as you say. Most people want to hear major or minor.

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    Most of the time when people say that Johnny Mac plays like a typewriter or machine gun etc. they're just jealous.
    I could never in a trillion years do what McLaughlin does - nor would I want to do so. This doesn't mean I don't respect it. Much of the time, it just doesn't light my particular synapses either intellectually or emotionally. It's fine with me if others feel differently. When Tal Farlow, in his prime, played at high speeds the creative content landed with me more consistently but honestly, as I age, generally speaking, I have much more appreciation for the guy on the street who can play one chord but play it with deep feeling than the guy or girl who plays a zillion notes played with technical virtuosity. There are always exceptions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyV View Post
    I could never in a trillion years do what McLaughlin does - nor would I want to do so. This doesn't mean I don't respect it. Much of the time, it just doesn't light my particular synapses either intellectually or emotionally. It's fine with me if others feel differently. When Tal Farlow, in his prime, played at high speeds the creative content landed with me more consistently but honestly, as I age, generally speaking, I have much more appreciation for the guy on the street who can play one chord but play it with deep feeling than the guy or girl who plays a zillion notes played with technical virtuosity. There are always exceptions.
    I hear ya. I toggle between Wes and John for a lot of my listening.

    "The Thumb" was a (chosen) handicap but also a blessing. Wes could weave melodies effortlessly as long as he wanted. A melody machine he was.

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    These guys were (are in McLaughlin's case) giants.

    I knew about Coryell first. Makes sense. He was around first...at least, in the USA. I first heard about him via Gary Burton's work in the 60s. That, it seems to me, is the birth of fusion--even earlier than Miles' stuff. Check out "Duster," a great early album.

    I, of course, went through a Mahavishnu Orchestra phase, as did every other guitarist my age. That was some pretty heady stuff.

    Through the years, I guess I'd say that I was more influenced by Larry Coryell than by John McLaughlin. He seemed, to me, to evolve with the times better--while maintaining his core bag.