Personnel: Larry Coryell (guitar); Chick Corea (electric piano); John McLaughlin (guitar); Miroslav Vitous (bass); Billy Cobham (drums).
Recorded in 1969. Includes liner notes by Bob Palmer.
The personnel making up the two quartets guitarist Larry Coryell showcases on his classic 1970 recording SPACES reads like a who's who of fusion. However, in the spirit of the Tony Williams Lifetime of EMERGENCY (from 1969), this is electric jazz fusion at its very inception--a raw, earnest, experimental music devoid of empty artifice.
Coryell came to New York in the mid-1960s, performing in an early fusion ensemble called The Free Spirits before making a name for himself in jazz circles with drummer Chico Hamilton and in Gary Burton's daring quartet. British guitarist John McLaughlin was a fresh face in town, having just joined Williams' Lifetime, while making stunning recorded cameos with, among others, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Miroslav Vitous. The Czech bassist Vitous had performed with Davis, Herbie Mann and Chick Corea, and would go on to form Weather Report with Shorter and Joe Zawinul later that year. Keyboardist Corea had just replaced Herbie Hancock in the Miles Davis band.
On Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step" and his own "Chris," Coryell teams with Corea to create a rich, shifting harmonic fabric, clearly influenced by Bill Evans. On "Chris," Coryell's fervent, over-the-top blues inflections and discrete use of distortion gives his solos a decidedly modern aura. But the guitarist really whips it out on the title tune and "Wrong Is Right," where McLaughlin's harmonies inspire him to double up rhythmically, with soaring horn-like lines over a fulminating Vitous/Billy Cobham pulse. And on their acoustic duet, "Rene's Theme," the guitarists create an electrifying homage to the gypsy stylings of Django Reinhardt.
Rolling Stone (4/1/71, p.52) - "...it's a guitar player's dream....This is one of the most beautiful, perfectly-realized instrumental albums in a long while..."
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