Three of the jazz world’s best musicians, guitarist Larry Coryell (The Eleventh House), bassist Victor Bailey (Weather Report), and drummer Lenny White (Return to Forever), wrapped up a two day stint at Yoshi’s in Oakland to kick off their west coast tour. As I wrote back in 2013, the trio had released 2 albums on the Chesky Records label, beginning with “Electric”, “a blistering set of jazz, blues and classic rock anthems… “Coryell and friends have an all-out blast working their way through a track listing of rock and blues tunes, bending and stretching covers of well-known cuts popularized by Led Zeppelin (Black Dog), and Sly and the Family Stone (Sex Machine), as well as Miles Davis’ “So What” (from his seminal Kind of Blue album) and Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” into a rockin’ musical adventure. “We tried to straddle the lines between ‘jazz’, ‘rock’, ‘funk’ and ‘fusion’ and whatever other names people want to put on music,” comments Bailey…” This amazing trio would go on to record another album in 2006, “Traffic”.
Chesky Records described Traffic, as the “…CBW’s highly anticipated follow-up to their 2005 debut”, and continued the “CBW tradition of blending virtuosic original compositions with immaculately conceived interpretations of jazz and classic rock standards. Original songs on Traffic include go-for-the-throat throwdowns like “Judith Loves Jazz,” “Door No.3″ and “Overruled,” while covers of Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” are also featured.
Though Coryell & Co. have been acclaimed for their raw, in-your-face sound, they also know how to apply finesse when necessary. Traffic even finds CBW unplugging for gentle acoustic respites like “Jake’s Lullaby” and “Joyce’s Favorite.” “It’s not only a detour from the rest of the program, but I think it’s a needed one in the first decade of the 21st century,” Coryell says of the featured acoustic numbers. “I just don’t think we can go all the way through with loud rockin’ stuff, so we offer a few detours on this record.”
Other sonic highlights include a rare documented instance of Coryell playing slide on “Misterioso” and Bailey’s two-handed tapping technique on several tracks throughout the album. Recorded in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in New York, Traffic uncompromisingly captures the immediacy of uncompressed live music in a sonically rich environment; CBW just let the tape roll and channeled the spirit of the moment. “Monk told me one thing that I will never forget,” Coryell recalls.” He said, ‘Wrong is right, baby!’ And on this record, we all took his advice. We all made mistakes with authority and it sounds good…”
Last night’s performance saw the trio run through many of the tunes from those albums; the aforementioned “Manic Depression”, “Black Dog”, “Joyce’s Favorite”, and “Door No. 3”, before delving into the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Now”, and wrapping up with Coryell’s “Spaces Revisited” and White’s fiery “Wolfbane”. I’m happy to report that these tunes continue to stand the test of time. White also took a few minutes to speak with the audience, and to remind us that we are living in extraordinary times; that these legendary musicians and the groups they have been an integral part of; The Eleventh House, Weather Report, Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Azteca, the Headhunters and others shaped a generation; changed the way we dress, the way we think and act, empowered us and inspired us on to better the world we live in. Personally, I’m extremely grateful that I got a chance to see those seminal groups; we’ll likely not see their like again. So see them when you can and continue to support live music; you too just may become inspired.Filed under: Arts & Entertainment