Archive for Larry Coryell

ShortRiffs — February 2017

Posted in Equipment, Music Business, Players, Playing, ShortRiffs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2017 by theguitarcave


Welcome to the February issue of ShortRiffs! This is the second consecutive month of the series and I think this idea is going to work out pretty well. There is no shortage of music news over the course of the average month and there is also the occasional personal item that I hope at least a few people out there will find interesting and/or informative. So, let’s get to it!


Unfortunately, the biggest news of the month is not good news — Guitar Icon and Certified Master Larry Coryell passed away in his sleep a few days ago at the age of 73. He had just played a couple of shows in New York City and was planning on having a pretty busy year of work according to this obituary/tribute in Guitar World. While he was known as the Godfather of Fusion, Coryell was comfortable playing any style and adapting the feeling and groove of all types of music into one seamless bag of awesomeness. His long and journeying career began in the 1960s and over the years he moved easily through rock, psychedelic, jazz, fusion, latin, classical and even operatic styles of music. He worked with such greats as Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia, Ron Carter, Chet Baker and many others. Back in 2011 I shared in this post, Larry’s lesson on the Jazz minor scale and how he applied it in various situations within the standard Stella By Starlight. Since then this has been a popular post and if you have never seen it, I am sure it could add a dimension to your playing that you may not know existed. There are other lessons with Larry on YouTube and I’ve seen them all! Definitely worth the time spent. A brilliant artist and teacher and by all accounts a great guy too!
Travel well, Maestro!.


As I related last month a new piece of equipment I had just purchased, the Audio-Technica Pro70 mic, stopped working suddenly at a gig in December. Well the company has repaired and returned the mic and I played it at home for a few hours yesterday and no problem! I really like how it sounds and at some point will record a demo video. At the moment (See below) I live in a construction zone and it is almost impossible to sync up quiet time and guitar recording. That is why GuitarSong #6 is also delayed. Soon! Anyhow, the outside housing of the Pro70 had to be replaced so it was obviously faulty somehow. It does comes with a two year warranty so I hope I get some pain-free, great-sounding use out of it. HURRAH to Audio-Technica for a great job of customer service! Another set of videos that was real influential to me purchasing this is below — Romane and Stochelo Rosenberg playing back in the early 2000s. I just watched my disc of this performance again recently. I love these two guys together! Of course they could play through a tin cup/string combination and it would sound good, but I like they are using these mics! My friend and I play this tune (For Wes) together and it’s always a gas! Demanding to play at tempo, but great fun at the same time.


Speaking of Stochelo Rosenberg — in less than a month I will behold his awesomeness in person at Carnegie Hall. I am so psyched! I have been waiting a long time for this! The presentation, for Django a Gogo 2017, was organized by the great Stephane Wrembel and also includes Al Di Meola! This is going to be awesome! For people who want to go to guitar camp, there is almost a week of classes scheduled with a bunch of great players. Hopefully, all will go well so this will be an annual event. It looks like there are still a whole lot of seats available and while the weather on the East Coast has been verifiably wacky this year (it was just 60 degrees one day with almost a foot of snow the follow day) there aren’t any forecasts of impending big storms. So that’s good! You can all be sure there will be a review of the concert in next month’s ShortRiffs.


Eddie Van Halen made news as part of a program that gives disadvantaged kids musical instruments. In this clip he stresses the importance of music and having music education be a part of everyone’s schooling. I DEFINITELY AGREE! EVH donated 75 guitars from his personal collection to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which delivers almost 2,000 instruments to low-income schools every year. A great foundation and well done Mr. Van Halen!


The drain pipes on several blocks in my neighborhood have been replaced recently. The crews doing the work are total pros and they really do have what is a pretty large-scope operation down to a science, but it’s been a very noisy couple of months with frequent interruptions of heat and hot water. Hey, that’s New York! Supposedly these excavated pipes are almost one-hundred years old, but I dunno about that. They look like they are in pretty good shape to have been put in place in 1916. It is pretty amazing to think how much has happened with the world in the space of time that these pipes served their usefulness. For example, my girlfriend’s block is home to the boyhood address of notorious New York gangster and the Godfather of Organized Crime, Charles “Lucky” Luciano. He would’ve still been residing on the block as a teen when these pipes went in. According to legend he and one of his partners, Meyer Lansky, used to meet around the corner and hash out plans in DeRobertis Caffe, which sadly is now closed. Over the years there were other allegations and a few busts involving Mob activity at DeRobertis. How many canolis did they serve over the course of 110 years and how many gallons of stuff was carried through these pipes in roughly the same amount of time? Mind boggling! Incidentally, John Travolta has been around filming for the upcoming biopic on John Gotti, whose crew had a big presence in the neighborhood back in the late 70s and early 80s. John as the Dapper Don…never would’ve thought it.


Thanks to my friend and neighbor Tom, I was able to check out Jimmy Page…by Jimmy Page. ZOSO baby! As always, anything Jimmy Page puts together, especially if it has anything to do with Led Zeppelin, you know the final product is going to be fantastically well done! While I haven’t had time to read the whole thing yet, I did peruse several chapters and came to the conclusion that the book is great and the pictures alone are totally worth the price of admission! There are several pics that I had never seen before. Like this one:


There are a few of these coffee-table type books out there that I have had a chance to check out over the past month and I will be talking about and showing stuff from them in the future. hugoboss_pageLed Zeppelin was obviously a monstrously influential band that I have written about a few times over the years. I’ve also reviewed the Orange Album in the right column on the main page of the blog. As a matter of fact, the very first post on The Guitar Cave had Jimmy as the subject matter. He has definitely earned the title of Guitar Hero and all of the accolades that have come his way. If you were considering picking this book up, I would say Go For It! There are almost 300 reviews on Amazon and the book gets a perfect 5 star rating. That’s pretty impressive ladies and gentlemen!


Coming very soon GuitarSong #6 — Django Reinhardt’s version of Night and Day.

Django Reinhardt — Night and Day 1953

Posted in Education, Movies, Playing with tags , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by theguitarcave

As promised in my last post on Larry Coryell and the Jazz Minor, here is how I hear that playing strategy in Django’s 1953 version of Night and Day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I LOVE Django’s playing on this song and believe it completely epitomizes what great jazz and great guitar playing should sound like.

If you’re unfamiliar with this song, find a chart and follow along! As I said in the previous post, while Django did this version in the key of Eb, he also did a couple versions in the key of D and this is the key I’m playing in. In the first video I give chord demonstrations of how many Gypsy Jazz artists play it (kind of). The basic progression is Em7b5 A7 D. You can choose either of the first two examples of voices. Or you can re-harmonize it like the third example I provide, Stochelo Rosenberg / The Rosenberg Trio and their version with Stephane Grappelli that is on the Caravan album. Stochelo plays the Em7b5 as a Gmin9, the A7 as an A7b9b13 and the D as a D major. He also does that line cliché that leads into an E9/B A7b5b913/Bb D6/9 F07. Then it returns to a normal 2-5-1 in D (Em7 A7 Dmaj). That all sounds complicated but it isn’t really. The E9/B is a regular E9 chord with the B on the low E string fingered and you slide down a half step for the next chord. The other chords are typical jazz chords. Then I play the Jazz Minor scale as Larry Coryell was playing it in his lesson and then I play a couple of licks from Django’s take on Night and Day. I think there is a lot of similarity there.

The Mouse Amp

I’m using my Gretsch Anniversary Junior plugged through a Mouse Amp. The picture is showing two views of the Mouse. I believe the amp is from the late 70s and it was a DEAD MOUSE until a couple of years ago. I thought it was toast, but the guy who sets up my guitars put in a new battery and cleaned it up and it was good as new. The battery can be charged for up to 4 hours so I can play outside, at the pool, on the beach, or busk on the street. It doesn’t have the hi-fidelity of the Schertler David or the Fender Champ I have, which I’ll use in some upcoming videos, but it’s certainly really easy to set up and go. The Gretsch is pretty awesome too. I’ve done quite a few gigs with it and I’m really happy with how it sounds playing this music. A Gibson L-5 it is not, but I can get close to Django’s amplified tone with a little tweaking, especially through the David. I really like that combo.

The last video is Django’s intro and entire first chorus. Notice…how jazzy cool he is…The phrasing on some parts is just beautiful and very lyrical and he gets so much out of a couple of notes. Of course it really swings and the whole solo is great. I’ve worked out the rest of it and have also worked out Stochelo’s version, which is also really great! As you can tell from the videos it was really noisy here today…and hot. This will probably be the last playing-video until summer is over. Also, I’ve been informed by YOUTUBE that making videos like this warrants a flag over copyright by Warner Chappell. It seems there is a built-in system on YOUTUBE that can detect the recorded material and though I didn’t get a notice about my Swinging with Django video or Oiseaux des Iles, they have been flagged as well. Warner-Chappell doesn’t know about this, but at any time they can take action and the videos will be deleted, there will be a stronger warning or whatever. It’s not my intention to infringe on anyone’s rights. This is supposed to be educational and had I been able to watch some of the videos that I’ve made when I was learning to play Django’s music, I certainly would have. But the whole question of what constitutes FAIR USE is RILLY, RILLY, COMPLICATED and though I’m going to leave what I’ve done up for now, I will probably be investigating new playing/broadcasting avenues for the future.

Larry Coryell — Jazz Minor (Altered Scale) Lesson

Posted in Education, Players, Playing with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2011 by theguitarcave

A pretty cool lesson on what Larry Coryell calls the Jazz Minor Scale, also known as the Altered scale. You can hear jazz players use the concepts involved with this scale all the time and it makes for some really nice improvisation options over dominant seven chords. The song that really got me into jazz, and the first one I was playing the chords and melody well enough to enjoy playing, was Django Reinhardt’s 1953 (electric) version of Night and Day. I LOVE this version of the song and quote some of the licks on a regular basis. In his first chorus Django uses Altered Scale licks against the Fm7b5 – Bb7 (2-5 in the key of Eb) and this, combined with the awesome tone of his amplified Selmer gives the song a very sophisticated, MODERN jazz sound. I usually play Night and Day in the key of D as do a lot of other Gypsy Jazzers and it is the key Django and the Hot Club of France recorded his first pass at the song in 1938. Comparing the two versions is a good measure of how far Django progressed over the course of his career. He always had great musical sense, timing, and phrasing abilities, but in my opinion the later version is miles better yet is still obviously Django. Recorded only two months before he died, I think it is another example of a recording that obviously disproves the argument that he lost his edge after WW II.

Larry Coryell has been a guitar virtuoso since the 1960s and has played with many heavies throughout the years including (to once again bring this back to Gypsy Jazz): Stephane Grappelli on the 1979 album Young Django and modern Gypsy Jazz/Jazz powerhouse Bireli Lagrene on the 1997 Spaces Revisited. He also did an album with Emily Remler that I think is fantastic and have in my great discs column on the RIGHT >>>>>. I don’t have nearly enough of the stuff he has done and hope to be able to get more in my collection sometime in the near future. In these two videos he goes over various concepts and uses for the Altered Scale and illustrates the more salient points with the jazz standard Stella by Starlight as an example. Stella isn’t an easy tune unless you are already a pretty adept player, so I think it’s important to focus on the scales and chords he shows in the beginning and the simple licks he demonstrates at the end to really get the sound of this stuff in your head. Obviously these scales and chords for every key are all over the neck so just getting that ingrained will take a little bit of time. Usually if I see a lesson like this I will pull out the bits I can do and then return to it later to pick up on the more advanced stuff. Larry says “take your time”, and in my recent post on how our brains learn music, research, that’s right, SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH has shown that a focused, step by step approach is much better in the long run than trying to learn it all in one go. Having said that — if you have been playing Gypsy Jazz you will notice (Larry covers this in the 2nd video) that while this scale can be described or thought of as a major scale with a minor third, or similar to a harmonic minor scale, or a major-minor scale, it can also, with the addition of a seventh before the root, be seen as a combination of the diminished and a whole tone scale. Of course these are two very commonly-used scales and arpeggios in Gypsy Jazz, so if you have been working with them, you will probably have an easier time integrating the Altered scale into your playing. In a future post I will show some of the licks in Django’s Night and Day just because they are topical and fun to play.