Larry Coryell
Coryell in 1979
Coryell in 1979
Background information
Birth nameLorenz Albert Van DeLinder III
Born(1943-04-02)April 2, 1943
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 19, 2017(2017-02-19) (aged 73)
New York City
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, free jazz, pop, rock, classical
Years active1965–2017
LabelsVanguard, Arista, Novus, Muse, Shanachie, Chesky, Wide Hive, Patuxent

Larry Coryell (born Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III; April 2, 1943[1] – February 19, 2017)[2] was an American jazz guitarist.

Early life

Larry Coryell was born in Galveston, Texas, United States.[1] He never knew his biological father, a musician. He was raised by his stepfather Gene, a chemical engineer, and his mother Cora, who encouraged him to learn piano when he was four years old.[3]

In his teens he switched to guitar. After his family moved to Richland, Washington, he took lessons from a teacher who lent him albums by Les Paul, Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel, and Tal Farlow. When asked what jazz guitar albums influenced him, Coryell cited On View at the Five Spot Cafe by Kenny Burrell, Red Norvo with Strings, and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. He liked blues and pop music and tried to play jazz when he was eighteen. He said that hearing Wes Montgomery changed his life.[4]

Coryell graduated from Richland High School, where he played in local bands the Jailers, the Rumblers, the Royals, and the Flames. He also played with the Checkers from Yakima. He then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.[2]


Coryell at Jazz im Palmengarten, Frankfurt am Main, 2009
Coryell at Jazz im Palmengarten, Frankfurt am Main, 2009

In September 1965, Coryell moved to New York City, where he attended Mannes School of Music.[5] After moving to New York, he listened to classical composers such as Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Shostakovich.[4]

He replaced guitarist Gábor Szabó in Chico Hamilton's quintet.[1] In 1967–68, he recorded with Gary Burton. During the mid-1960s he played with the Free Spirits,[6] his first recorded band. His music during the late-1960s and early-1970s combined rock, jazz, and eastern music.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, he led the group Foreplay with Mike Mandel, a friend since childhood,[7] although the albums of this period, Barefoot Boy, Offering, and The Real Great Escape, were credited only to Larry Coryell. He formed The Eleventh House in 1973.[1] Several of the group's albums included drummer Alphonse Mouzon.

He recorded two guitar duet albums with Philip Catherine. In 1979, he formed The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia.[1] The group toured Europe briefly, releasing a video recorded at Royal Albert Hall in London entitled Meeting of Spirits. In early 1980, Coryell's drug addiction led to his being replaced by Al Di Meola.[8] He recorded Together with guitarist Emily Remler, who died in 1990. Starting from 2010, Coryell toured and recorded intermittently with a trio that included pianist John Colianni, as well as bassists Daryl Johns and Jim Cammack. Since 2011, formerly, Coryell played in a duo with fusion guitarist Roman Miroshnichenko.[9]

Personal life

Coryell was first married to writer-actress Julie Nathanson (c. 1948-2009), daughter of actress Carol Bruce.[10] She appeared on the covers of several of his albums (including Lady Coryell, Larry Coryell at the Village Gate and The Lion and the Ram) and later wrote the book Jazz-Rock Fusion, which was based on interviews with many of Coryell's peers, including Chick Corea and John McLaughlin.[11] She also sang intermittently with Coryell, including one track on the 1984 album Comin' Home. The couple had two sons (Murali Coryell (b. 1969) and Julian Coryell (b. 1973), both professional guitarists) before divorcing in 1985.[12] Thereafter, he had a brief romance with fellow jazz guitarist and artistic collaborator Emily Remler.[13] In 1988, he remarried to Connecticut native Mary (Molly) Schuler; they divorced in 2005. His widow is Tracey Coryell. They were married in Orlando, Florida (where he resided later in life) in 2007. Tracey is a singer/songwriter/performer who appeared on Larry's Laid, Back & Blues recording in 2006 on Rhombus Records. Coryell recorded one of Tracey's compositions, "First Day of Autumn" on his album The Lift in 2013 on Wide Hive Records.

After surmounting his alcohol and heroin addictions, Coryell practiced Nichiren Buddhism.[14] He also attempted to introduce Remler (who struggled with opioid addiction until her death in 1990) to a more healthful lifestyle, as exemplified by jogging and taking vitamins.[15]

In November 2016, Coryell condemned Donald Trump following his election to the presidency of the United States. "This is an unacceptable situation," he said to Bill Milkowski of DownBeat. "We cannot let all the work we’ve done as jazz musicians to help relationships between people … we can't let all that go to hell. And that's what this election is going to do. It'll take us back to the Dark Ages and people will think that it’s OK to be prejudiced again. Well, I don't accept it. We have to stand up. … [Trump is] an impostor, a huckster, and he’s got to go. And because I'm a Buddhist I'm going to chant about it and try to turn poison into medicine, and just get deeper and deeper into my music."

Shortly after these comments were published, Coryell wrote to Downbeat to apologize and retract: "I am no longer angry about the election; I accept it. I have musician friends who did not vote my way. I have no place implying, as I did in the article, that their votes were insincere or illegitimate... Also—and this is very important—I believe that I have a responsibility to transcend politics, focusing instead on finding ways to touch people’s hearts through music. I never want to forget all the great players who mentored me in the art of demonstrating restraint regarding hot-button issues; these men and women advised me to exercise discretion, and to behave with exemplary humanity. ...My comments did nothing to further the cause of our music. I apologize."[16]


Coryell died of heart failure on Sunday, February 19, 2017, in a New York City hotel room at the age of 73. He had performed at the Iridium Jazz Club in Manhattan on the preceding two days.[2][17]


As leader

With The Free Spirits

With Fuse One

As sideman

With Gary Burton

With Herbie Mann

With Charles Mingus

With Don Sebesky

With L. Subramaniam

With others




  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ a b c Keepnews, Peter (February 21, 2017). "Larry Coryell, Guitarist of Fusion Before It Had a Name, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  3. ^ Varga, George. "Jazz fusion guitarist Larry Coryell dies at 73". Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Barth, Joe (2006). Voices in Jazz Guitar. Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay. pp. 141–157. ISBN 0786676795.
  5. ^ "Goodbye…Larry Coryell, 1943-2017". Elmore Magazine. February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Unterberger 1998, p. 329
  7. ^ Coryell, Larry (2007). Improvising: My Life in Music. New York: Hal Leonard. p. 89.
  8. ^ Riggs, Mike (March 19, 2009). "Larry Coryell Power Tri o". Washington City Paper. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  9. ^ Roman Miroshnichenko On Tour With The Godfather Of Fusion
  10. ^ Durkee, Cutler (November 13, 1978). "Jazz and Rock Are An Explosive Combination: So Are Guitarist Larry Coryell and Wife Julie". People. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Mandel, Howard (May 17, 2009). "Julie Coryell, jazz author, manager, muse". Jazz Beyond Jazz. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Sisario, Ben (May 28, 2009). "Julie Coryell, Contributor to Jazz-Rock Fusion Scene, Dies at 61". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  13. ^ West, Michael J. "The Rise and Decline of Guitarist Emily Remler". Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  14. ^ "Larry Coryell - an improvised life". March 2, 2008. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  15. ^ "Forgotten Heroes: Emily Remler". July 29, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  16. ^ "DownBeat Archives". Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  17. ^ Cole, Tom; Hart, Otis (February 20, 2017). "Guitarist Larry Coryell, Godfather Of Fusion, Dies At 73". NPR.