The Eleventh House featuring Larry Coryell, Level, Arista AL 4052
To borrow stock market parlance, The Eleventh House fluctuates between upper and lower resistance levels of support. Or, more comfortably, it ain't bad.
Coryell is clearly a devotee of the rock-jazz strain encouraged, if not founded, by Miles Davis circa "In A Silent Way". Coryell's gifted guitar is surrounded by competence, including fleet-wristed drummer, Alphonse Mouzon, a solid trumpet in Michael Lawrence, with Mike Mandel on keyboards and John Lee on bass.
Suggesting sources of influences is normally an exercise in subjectivism. Chicken-egg problems are bound to result-who's influencing whom, and who did it first. Still it is apparent that somebody's been listening to Weather Report. Like Weather Report, Coryell's clan isn't afraid of establishing a theme from which they can freely improvise.
The opening cut on side one, "Level One", and its follow up, "The Other Side", are heavy-handed, highly acoustic pieces with technically accomplished performances by Coryell and guest guitarist, Steve Kahn.
A personal favorite, and a cut with less electricity and more melody, is the graceful "Diedra". It is a well-integrated, textured show of romance. This brings up the album's most striking, if not positive, characteristic. Diversity. Boogie, rock (and sometimes roll), and even blues themes abound, all plugged into a mold of acoustic rock-jazz.
A personal low is the hey-look-what-we-can-do "Nyctaphobia", a frenzy on side one. Here too much is going on, too quickly, with little attention to conceptual development. Afterwards, the listener says, "Okay, so you can blow."
Coryell is a youthful part of the maturing vanguard of jazz-rockers marching alongside Chick Corea, Tony Williams. Billy Cobham, et al. This latest offering, says the salesman with the unlit cigar, has something for everybody and everything for some.