Larry Coryell At King Pleasure
The test of time will eventually tell if the the currently voguish jazz rock synthesis, as conceived and performed by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea's Return to Forever, etc, is/was aesthetically "valid". There's no question whatsoever though that this music dug live will give you happy feet and ears. Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House, at King Pleasure February 7,8 & 9, brought proof positive to the fortunate few in attendance those nights.
Much like the previously mentioned units, the Coryell group combined stunning technical virtuosity with anarchistic rock n' roll passion to leave us laughing and gasping. Indeed, if the calm Mr. Coryell wasn't killing you with his screamer's song, then one was probably open-mouthed at Randy Brecker's stratospheric trumpetics or Mike Mandel's transgalactic odyssey courtesy ARP spaceways. Over, under, and through it all was Alphonse Mouzon thrashing his drums like a man afire.
My only reservation was the possibility of an OD on electricity. If I hadn't been looking, I'd have been hard pressed to choose whether it was the Wah-wah trumpet, electric guitar, or ARP synthesizer soloing. Consequently, I found Mike Mandel's vocal splashes during his extended solo a refreshing, even startling return to the organic.
Exceptions aside, it was a pleasure to have caught Coryell, this, the 2nd time around. But it was a surprise, and a sad one, to discover myself in such sparse company. Lisa Gottlieb and John Petrie, co-managers of King Pleasure, were likewise surprised and reported that the club was in serious danger of closing. Despite its faults (which are being dealt with) King Pleasure has brought consistently exciting high-level music to this town over the months. It would be a shame to prove that the Ann Arbor community couldn't support a cultural venture this valuable. Remember to please get out and support live music. --Bill Adler