Pioneering jazz guitarist Larry Coryell is not one to rest on his laurels. He, together with bassist Mark Egan and drummer Paul Wertico, helped to give the Jazz Factory a proper sendoff, as reviewed in my column. Coryell and Wertico have collaborated on Coryell's latest release,Impressions (Chesky SACD 337). This is an unusual recording in Coryell's lengthy discography, as he utilizes the talents of organist Sam Yahel instead of a bassist or other accompanist. A Louisville fan is mentioned anonymously as the source of an unreleased Wes Montgomery live session, which inspired Coryell to take on the John Coltrane title track.
The CD opens with an unusual and intriguing take on the Bill Evans classic "Very Early," with Yahel seeming to reference Larry Young in his introduction. A Coryell original, "Stowaway," and "Come Rain or Come Shine" are both bluesy and swing hard. The Gershwin standard "Embraceable You" is a ballad feature with lots of room for Yahel to stretch out. "Cariba," a Latin tune from the Wes Montgomery songbook, is next. On "Impressions," Coryell uses a very clean sound, rather than trying to emulate the style of Coltrane. Wertico trades fours with Coryell near the end and gets a longer solo spot on another Coryell composition, "Szabodar." The latter piece is dedicated to Hungarian musicians Gabor Szabo and Aladar Pege and features Coryell and Yahel engaging one another in some tricky lines together.
Wertico composed "Full Moon Over Istanbul," which sets up an interesting dynamic contrast of fast brushwork under a slower paced organ bed. The closing "Centerpiece" is played like the title to Coryell's self-released Laid Back and Blues: Live at the Sky Church in Seattle, i.e., laid back and bluesy.
In an era which has seen the resurgence of the funky organ trio, it is refreshing to hear Coryell, Yahel and Wertico take a different approach. This CD seems to draw from the more progressive side of the organ trio concept and should please both longtime fans of Coryell as well as of the genre.