In+Out Records IOR LP 77146-1
Formats: LP, 24-bit/96kHz WAV download
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½
In 2002, jazz guitarist Larry Coryell was more than 30 years into his career when he recorded Tricycles for In+Out Records, a jazz label based in Germany. He was touring Europe with two other American musicians, drummer Paul Wertico and bassist Mark Egan, and in November they went into a studio in Heidelberg. According to Coryell’s liner notes, the weather had been bad during the tour. While the musicians were recording, they came down with “influenza or something . . . but somehow, we could still play.”
In+Out has reissued Tricycles on CD, digital download, and a two-LP vinyl set. The reissue adds two tracks not included on the original release, and the song order has been changed. The original recording engineer, Winnie Leyh, remixed and remastered the sessions, and Thorsten Scheffner cut the lacquer for the vinyl release. Germany’s Optimal Media pressed the LPs.
I streamed the original 2002 version of the album on Amazon Music and compared it to the high-resolution (24/96) download and the new two-LP set of the reissue. Leyh’s remix and remaster sounded crisper and more detailed in both formats. The heightened sense of spaciousness enlivens the music.
Coryell’s “Immer geradeaus” is a statement of intent (it’s a German phrase meaning “always straight ahead”) that announces the trio’s playing style for the session. When I went from the original release to the reissue in either format, I heard a more forceful snare shot from Wertico at the opening of the song. It sounded somewhat dull on the earlier recording, but rang out sharply and echoed soundly on the remastered versions. His cymbals had a brighter sheen to them, and Egan’s bass lines had more drive and attack. I found it easier to hear Coryell’s picking technique on the new releases, and the chorus effect added to his guitar had a smoother tone.
Coryell’s “Quasimodo” is a new addition to the album lineup, and its hopeful, major-key swing is reminiscent of Pat Metheny. While Coryell nods to Metheny, especially in the tune’s chord structure, he brings a firmer edge to his improvisation in places. Egan studied with Jaco Pastorius, and shows some of his great teacher’s influence in his solo, but avoids imitation. Wertico keeps the music moving along, responding to the other players with a quick intelligence.
Two Thelonious Monk tunes, “’Round Midnight” and “Well You Needn’t,” were on the original release. Coryell’s take on the first tune is lyrical and dynamic. His octave and chord solo passages are clearly a tribute to Wes Montgomery’s recording of the tune—a benchmark for every jazz guitarist. Wertico’s brushwork is beautifully understated. “Well You Needn’t” is a knottier tune and a bigger challenge that all three musicians meet with ease. Coryell’s variations on Monk’s themes are vigorous and expansive, and Egan’s bass work weaves around the guitarist’s long, exciting lines, responding to and enhancing them.
“Rhapsody and Blues” is the other track from the original sessions that did not appear on the 2003 release. Coryell would record a slightly different version three years later with Victor Bailey and Lenny White, and that arrangement leaned more in the direction of jazz-rock fusion, with Coryell employing distortion and other effects. Here he plays clean, with just a touch of chorus. The trio swings resolutely as Coryell spins out lengthy melodic lines, quoting here and there the Gershwin tune he refers to in the title. Once again, the other two players are solid and alert, giving close support to Coryell. The new mix and master convey the close communication of the musicians with tremendous intimacy and immediacy.
Coryell closed Tricycles with a solo acoustic version of Lennon and McCartney’s “She’s Leaving Home.” The reissue seemed to bring the guitar closer to me; I could hear more subtleties of Coryell’s fingerstyle technique, the resonance of the guitar, and small details, such as Coryell’s fingers sliding on the strings, in far greater relief. It’s a delicate and sensitive performance—the guitarist demonstrates his considerable technical and improvisational skills but never loses sight of the melody.
I compared the vinyl reissue with the high-resolution WAV files and found only slight differences between them. The bass on the LP had a little more oomph, while the digital files had a tiny bit more sparkle up top. I enjoyed the music in both formats. The two LPs in my set were well pressed on 180-gram vinyl and the backgrounds were quiet. The gatefold cover is standard-weight cardboard, but the cover art is laminated, and each LP is protected by a good-quality antistatic inner sleeve.
Larry Coryell continued to perform until 2017, when he died from heart failure at age 73. He recorded many notable albums as a leader, but Tricycles is especially satisfying. Coryell’s playing is inspired, and the trio setting presents him at his best—especially with two musicians who are locked into his musical thinking and responding so quickly and with such intelligence. This is a very worthwhile reissue, with much improved sound.
. . . Joseph Taylor