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Experience counts in Coryell set

June 19, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Youth and new ideas are vital to jazz. But so too is experience. Larry Coryell's opening set at Catalina Bar & Grill on Tuesday made a convincing case for a career that has reached across genres ranging from electric rock to acoustic jazz.

The guitarist may still have his biggest following among fans of fusion and jazz-rock, but his most inventive work can be traced to the last two decades, in which his fine acoustic playing has been heard in everything from guitar duets and classical transcriptions to solid, mainstream playing.

On Tuesday, leading a quartet consisting of tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Paul Wertico, Coryell was in high gear from the first number. Although there were a few rough edges around the difficult melody of Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle, Tinkle," the group soon meshed superbly. Moore, performing with no rehearsal, offered his familiar blend of brisk craftsmanship and inventive improvising.

Other numbers followed, each touching on a different jazz perspective. An in-the-pocket version of Milt Jackson's "Bags' Groove" showcased Williams as a propulsive accompanist and a flowing, articulate soloist. "In a Sentimental Mood" let Coryell reveal his ballad skills, and he delivered with a remarkable solo filled with arching phrases, tightrope-walking across the chords in utterly fearless fashion.

Add to that a touching version of Lennon-McCartney's "She's Leaving Home," followed by a buoyant take on "Manha de Carnaval" and a climactic romp through "Moment's Notice," featuring a stirring solo from Wertico. All in all, a stunning set.

On Friday and Saturday, the Coryell Quartet will be joined by singer Diane Schuur.


Larry Coryell

Where: Catalina Bar & Grill, 1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood.

When: Tonight-Saturday, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $17-$25 with a two-drink minimum.

Info: (323) 466-2210

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