Saturday, August 15, 2015

Larry Coryell, Tom Coster, Steve Smith. - 1998 "Cause And Effect"

Electric fusion returns in a big way on Cause and Effect, featuring one of fusion's pioneering guitarists, one of the second wave's top keyboard contributors, and a fusion Journey-man on the drums. Indeed, Larry Coryell was there at the birth of jazz-rock fusion as a member of the Gary Burton Quartet on the seminal Duster LP; Tom Coster was the keys man and a key player in the second incarnation of Santana in the 1970s; and Steve Smith hooked up with first generation Santana alumni in Journey. Smith was the catalyst for this explosive, electric summit meeting, single-handedly revitalizing the fusion genre with a series of all-star sessions including this one. Most of the numbers here were made up in the studio as the players jammed. Consequently, the spontaneity is obvious, and the trio has a lot of fun letting out all the stops. It's quite a change from the smooth textures Coryell had been putting out in recent years. Because of the free-flowing nature of the process, there are few real melodies here, but there are some great licks. Coryell's composition "Bubba" is a fine piece of funk, and his "First Things First" slithers seductively along on Coster's B-3 bed. The closing "Finale: Wes and Jimi" provides an appropriate denouement to the proceedings, while paying tribute to two of the genre's most important forebears. The obvious point of reference here is the Tony Williams Lifetime, and those familiar with that group's sound will be taken back to those heady days. However, these guys have managed to recall that exploratory era while creating their own fresh slant, resulting in a one-shot recording that deserves to be heard.

This power trio encounter between drummer Steve Smith, Hammond B-3 organist Tom Coster and fusion guitar pioneer Larry Coryell sounds like outtakes from a 1972 session. And I assure you, this is a good thing. A very good thing indeed.
Hardcore fusion fans had virtually written off Coryell in the '90s after his rather tame radio-friendly offerings for CTI like Live from Bahia and Fallen Angel. He had a welcome return to guitar hero form last year with the superb Spaces Revisited (Shanachie), which paired him with disciple Bireli Lagrene, former Zawinul Syndicate bassist Richard Bona, and drumming great Billy Cobham (who had appeared on the original Spaces session from 1970). But nothing that Larry has done in the past 20 years equals the ripping intensity and exhilaration of this all-out power trio blow-out.
Between the opening salvo of the odd-metered "These Are Odd Times," with its ferocious exchanges of eights, and the fuzz-and-wah inflected scorcher, "Plankton," you can feel the renegade spirit of this recording. Versatile drummer Smith (whose credits range from Jean-Luc Ponty to rock supergroup Journey to Steps Ahead and his own group Vital Information) is basically the A&R presence behind Tone Center, a staunch fusion label started up earlier this year by guitar maven Mark Varney, who is also the head of the heavy metal label Shrapnel Records. Smith's intent is to provide an outlet for true fusion chopsmeisters to wail with no holds barred. He's already done precisely that in previous power trio outings with Tribal Tech guitarist Scott Henderson and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones bassist extraordinaire Victor Wooten (Vital Tech Tones) and with Vital Information guitarist Frank Gambale and Joe Satriani bassist Stuart Hamm (Show Me What You Can Do). Cause And Effect is equally over-the-top.
"Wrong Is Right" and "First Things First" are more traditional, swinging jazz organ trio romps that highlight the trio's bop facility, and "Bubba" is a bit of funk done up in a Meters vein, supported by Smith's syncopated Zigaboo-styled backbeats. But it's the more savage, unrelenting and shamelessly 'notey' jams like "Night Visitors" and the adrenaline-pumped "Miss Guided Missle" that will really get fusion maniacs drooling. It's been a long time since they've been catered to. This one should be received by them with the same zeal that hungry lions greet scraps of red meat at the Bronx Zoo.

Legendary guitar genius Larry Coryell has reclaimed some of his early roots here with an explosive new cd on Tone Center records. Backed by stalwart session men Steve Smith (drums) and Tom Coster (kbrds) this is the stuff that Coryell admirers have been waiting for, especially after some recent and relatively sedate "smooth jazz" ventures.
Coryell was among the handful of jazz pioneers who ventured into experimental dabblings with jazz-rock and psychedelia. His classic collaborations with John McLaughlin, Mike Brecker and Oregon to name but a few were escapades into unknown turf during the 70's. His famed Eleventh House unit during the 70's and early 80's expanded upon jazz-rock-fusion. The Eleventh House was an extremely tight band which featured trumpeter Randy Brecker trading impossible unison runs with Coryell and also featured power house drummer Alphonse Mouzon. The Eleventh House were pioneers that paralleled the likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report. Since the demise of the Eleventh House, Coryell has performed and recorded with various units and has crafted a diverse resume of alliances with many notable musicians of different genres. He has recently explored the "jazz-lite" avenue along with some notable straight ahead romps for various labels.
"Cause and Effect" literally caused me to sit on the edge of my seat. Coryell and co. dazzle, astound and effortlessly rip through originals which rekindle memories of yesteryear. These guys are having a blast which is quite evident from the outset. A conglomerate of bluesy, swinging and rip-roaring tunes take the listener for a journey that is enticing and ultimately captivating. Take the opener "These Are Odd Times" as an example. Coryell is in your face with a sense of urgency. As things progress we get the message. Coryell's attack is devastating. The cuts on this cd represent some surprising twists and turns, lively funk, passionate interplay and memorable compositions. Veteran leader and session man Steve Smith is an amazing drummer. His swing at times is reminiscent of Buddy Rich, yet he can "out-rock" most rock drummers. Tom Coster performs marvelously on the keys. All in all the support is stellar and invigorating. Bassist's Victor Wooten and Bennie Reitveld lend a helping hand on several cuts when Coster isn't stomping on the bass pedals.
This cd is a moving tribute to one of the great guitarists of the 20th Century. Coryell is back with no holds barred. Enjoy and PLAY IT LOUD! Highly Recommended (not for lovers of "lite-jazz")

Tracks Listing
1. These Are Odd Times ( 7:54 )
2. Plankton ( 4:34 )
3. Wrong Is Right ( 7:16 )
4. Bubba ( 6:02 )
5. Cause & Effect ( 0:49 )
6. Night Visitors ( 8:08 )
7. Miss Guided Missile ( 8:37 )
8. First Things First ( 7:51 )
9. Night Visitors Revisited ( 2:19 )
10. Finale Wes & Jimmy ( 11:13 )
11. ( untitled hidden track )

- Larry Coryell / guitars
- Tom Coster / Keyboards
- Steve Smith / drums
- Victor Wooten / bass, track 1
- Benny Rietveld / bass, tracks 2,9,10


  1. love larry and missed this one,thanks

  2. Re-upped this one, errors fixed.


  4. Larry Coryell R.I.P. Feb. 19, 2017..