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Larry Coryell (1943 -2017)

Getty / David Redfern

Larry Coryell (1943 -2017)

Larry Coryell, the Texas-born jazz guitarist who was known as the Godfather of Fusion, died Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, of natural causes in his hotel room in New York City, according to multiple news sources. He was 73.

Coryell was born April 2, 1943, in Galveston, Texas. After playing in some local groups, he moved to Seattle, Washington, where he played in more local bands while pursuing his college education.

He moved to New York City in 1965 and started his professional jazz career in earnest, playing in drummer-bandleader Chico Hamilton's quintet. Coryell went on to record with jazz greats Gary Burton, Herbie Mann, Charles Mingus, and Bob Moses. Coryell's music seamlessly blended elements of rock, jazz, and Eastern influences.


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Coryell recorded dozens of albums including his 1968 debut, "Lady Coryell," which featured his wife, actress Julie Nathanson, on the album cover; the highly acclaimed "Spaces" (1969); "Larry Coryell at the Village Gate" (1971), and "Offering."

In 2007, Coryell published his autobiography, "Improvising: My Life in Music."

He was preceded in death by his former wife, Julie Nathanson, who died in 2009. The couple divorced in 1968.

He is survived by his wife, the former Tracey Piergross; two daughters, Allegra Coryell and Annie White; two sons, Murali and Julian; and six grandchildren. 

In reacting to the news of Coryell's death, veteran musicians and recording artists paid tribute to the guitarist on social media.

Lee Sklar, the veteran session bassist, wrote in a Facebook post, "Larry was our opening act one year for James Taylor. Sat every night mesmerized by his gift. RIP Larry."

Bassist William "Bootsy" Collins wrote in a Facebook post, "We lost another fusion that connected electricity with life. Mr. Larry Coryell. Send out yr love & light to his family and friends."

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