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Larry Coryell (born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III; April 2, 1943 – February 19, 2017) was an American jazz guitarist known as the "Godfather of Fusion".[1]

Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell 1979.jpg
Coryell in 1979
Background information
Birth nameLorenz Albert Van DeLinder III
Born(1943-04-02)April 2, 1943
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 19, 2017(2017-02-19) (aged 73)
New York City
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, free jazz, pop, rock, classical
Years active1965–2017
LabelsVanguard, Arista, Novus, Muse, Shanachie, Chesky, Wide Hive, Patuxent
Associated acts


Larry Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas. He never knew his biological father, a musician. He was raised by his stepfather Gene, a chemical engineer, and his mother Cora, who encouraged him to learn piano when he was four years old.[2]

In his teens he switched to guitar. After his family moved to Richland, Washington, he took lessons from a teacher who lent him albums by Les Paul, Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel, and Tal Farlow. When asked what jazz guitar albums influenced him, Coryell cited On View at the Five Spot by Kenny Burrell, Red Norvo with Strings, and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. He liked blues and pop music and tried to play jazz when he was eighteen. He said that hearing Wes Montgomery changed his life.[3]

Coryell graduated from Richland High School, where he played in local bands the Jailers, the Rumblers, the Royals, and the Flames. He also played with the Checkers from Yakima. He then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.[4]

In September 1965, Coryell moved to New York City, where he attended Mannes School of Music.[5] After moving to New York, he listened to classical composers such as Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich.[3]

He replaced guitarist Gábor Szabó in Chico Hamilton's quintet. In 1967–68, he recorded with Gary Burton. During the mid-1960s he played with the Free Spirits,[6] his first recorded band. His music during the late-1960s and early-1970s combined rock, jazz, and eastern music.[citation needed]

He married three times during his life. First to writer-actress Julie Nathanson, daughter of actress Carol Bruce.[7] She appeared on the cover of his albums, Lady Coryell, Larry Coryell at the Village Gate, and The Lion and the Ram and wrote the book Jazz-Rock Fusion based on interviews with musicians such as Chick Corea and John McLaughlin.[8] She sang on one track on Coryell's 1984 album Comin' Home. The couple divorced in 1985. She died in 2009.[9] Larry’s second marriage was to Mary (Molly) Schuler from Connecticut in 1988. The couple divorced in 2005. Larry’s widow is Tracey Coryell. They were married in Orlando Florida in 2007. Tracey is a singer/songwriter/performer who appeared on Larry’s “Laid, Back & Blues” recording in 2006 on Rhombus Records. Larry recorded one of Tracey’s compositions, “First Day of Autumn” on his album “The Lift “ in 2013 on Wide Hive Records.

In the Seventies, he led the group Foreplay with Mike Mandel, a friend since childhood,[10] although the albums of this period, Barefoot Boy, Offering, and The Real Great Escape, were credited only to "Larry Coryell." He formed The Eleventh House in 1973. Several of the group's albums included drummer Alphonse Mouzon.

He recorded two guitar duet albums with Philip Catherine. In 1979, he formed The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. The group toured Europe briefly, releasing a video recorded at Royal Albert Hall in London entitled Meeting of Spirits. In early 1980, Coryell's drug addiction led to his being replaced by Al Di Meola.[11] He recorded Together with guitarist Emily Remler, who died in 1990.


Coryell died on February 19, 2017, of heart failure in New York City, at the age of 73. He was performing at the Iridium jazz club in Manhattan that weekend.[4][12]

Critical receptionEdit

In his review of the concert at the Iridium, David Miller of All About Jazz wrote:

This was jazz at its finest—complex and virtuosic yet easily accessible, at times intense, at others fun-filled, and always with the feeling of the unknown that comes with truly spontaneous and inspired improvisation. While the music was steeped in the bop tradition, the musicians continually found new ways to utilize the idiom. Few locations other than New York could host a powerhouse gathering of musical heavyweights of this order, and one can only hope that the shows have been recorded for a future release.[13]

When NPR radio host Billy Taylor, on one of the editions of Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center, introduced Coryell, he said:

Versatile virtuoso guitarist Larry Coryell proves to be more than an outstanding musician; he's also a particularly enlightening and affable conversationalist.[14]


Coryell at Jazz im Palmengarten, Frankfurt am Main, 2009

As leaderEdit

As sidemanEdit

With Randy Brecker

  • Score (Solid State, 1969)

With Gary Burton

With Marcel Dadi

  • Country Guitar Flavors (1996)
  • Nashville Rendez-Vous (1996)
  • Marcel Dadi (1997)

With Joey DeFrancesco

With Ithamara Koorax

  • Ithamara Koorax & Luiz Bonfa (1996)
  • Amor Sem Adeus (1998)
  • Almost in Love (2002)
  • Fusion Best (2012)

With Herbie Mann

  • Memphis Underground (1969)
  • Memphis Two-Step (1971)
  • Mellow (1981)

With Steve Marcus

  • Tomorrow Never Knows (Vortex, 1968)
  • Count's Rock Band (Vortex, 1969)
  • The Lord's Prayer (Vortex, 1969)

With Charles Mingus

With Don Sebesky

  • Don Sebesky and the Jazz-Rock Syndrome (1968)
  • Distant Galaxy (1968)
  • I Remember Bill: Tribute to Bill Evans (1998)

With L. Subramaniam

  • Blossom (1981)
  • Spanish Wave (1983)
  • Mani and Co. (1986)

With Kazumi Watanabe

  • Dogatana (1981)
  • One for All (1999)

With othersEdit


  • L. Subramaniam Violin From the Heart (1999) – directed by Jean Henri Meunier (includes a scene of Coryell performing with L. Subramaniam)
  • Meeting of the Spirits /1979 (2003) – live performance in London featuring Coryell, John McLaughlin, and Paco de Lucia
  • Super Guitar Trio and Friends in Concert /1990 (2005) – live performance featuring Coryell, Al Di Meola, and Biréli Lagrène
  • Super Guitar Trio: Live in Montreux /1989 (2007) – live performance featuring Coryell, Al Di Meola, and Biréli Lagrène
  • Three Guitars: Paris Concert /2004 (2012) – live performance featuring Coryell, Badi Assad, and John Abercrombie


  • Coryell, Larry (2007). Improvising: My Life in Music. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-0879308261.


  1. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Larry Coryell". AllMusic. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  2. ^ Varga, George. "Jazz fusion guitarist Larry Coryell dies at 73". Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Barth, Joe (2006). Voices in Jazz Guitar. Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay. pp. 141–157. ISBN 0786676795.
  4. ^ a b Keepnews, Peter (February 21, 2017). "Larry Coryell, Guitarist of Fusion Before It Had a Name, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  5. ^ "Goodbye…Larry Coryell, 1943-2017". Elmore Magazine. February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Unterberger 1998, pg. 329
  7. ^ Durkee, Cutler (November 13, 1978). "Jazz and Rock Are An Explosive Combination: So Are Guitarist Larry Coryell and Wife Julie". People. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Mandel, Howard (May 17, 2009). "Julie Coryell, jazz author, manager, muse". Jazz Beyond Jazz. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  9. ^ Sisario, Ben (May 28, 2009). "Julie Coryell, Contributor to Jazz-Rock Fusion Scene, Dies at 61". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  10. ^ Coryell, Larry (2007). Improvising: My Life in Music. New York: Hal Leonard. p. 89.
  11. ^ Riggs, Mike (March 19, 2009). "Larry Coryell Power Trio". Washington City Paper. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  12. ^ Cole, Tom; Hart, Otis (February 20, 2017). "Guitarist Larry Coryell, Godfather Of Fusion, Dies At 73". NPR Music.
  13. ^ "Larry Coryell Live at the Iridium". Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  14. ^ "Larry Coryell Live at the Kennedy Center". Retrieved November 9, 2010.

External linksEdit