Larry Coryell, known as the “godfather of fusion” died on Sunday in his hotel room of natural causes. The 73-year-old musician had a long association with classical Indian musicians including tabla maestro Zakir Hussain and violinist L Subramaniam.
The prolific jazz guitarist released 60 albums, one of which was a 2014 collaboration with flautist Ronu Majumdar and tabla virtuoso Aditya Kalyanpur as part of an ensemble named Bombay Jazz (video above).
In this interview, Coryell explained what drew him to Indian music: “When you’re a creative musician, you want to be aware of what everyone else is doing. So I was aware that the Beatles admired Indian music and even before the Beatles’ were connected with Ravi Shankar, John Coltrane was digging Indian music. A lot of people my age felt if Coltrane digs it there must be something to it. So we all got into to it to a greater or lesser degree. Indian music and jazz have one very strong commonality and that’s improvisation. Their rules of improv are very different than our but there is some overlapping.”
The video below is from a 1989-90 live recording of a concert featuring Coryell, L Shankar, and Zakir Hussain and Friends on a track called I Want You.
Here’s a recording featuring Coryell, Hussain and saxophonist George Brooks from a 2002 performance in Dubai on The Esio Trot.
In 1999, Subramaniam and Coryell collaborated on the fusion album From The Ashes. Here’s Beyond The Flame, one of the tracks on it.