Murali Coryell – Live (2013)

Born into a humbling legacy as the son of a fusion-jazz hero, Murali Coryell has made his own way — by taking a grittier, bluesier path. Two stops along the way, in the form of live performances from 2010 and ’12, are chronicled here.

He’s not what you expect, not from Larry Coryell’s son, not from a 40-something Connecticut-raised suburbanite. He sounds like a guy someone discovered on the porch of a Mississippi shot-gun shack.

Of course, if you listen closely enough, Live offers hints as to Coryell’s storied musical heritage, including the album-opening “In the Room with Jimi,” a tribute to a meeting between Murali and Jimi Hendrix when Coryell was but a child — backstage at the Fillmore East during a show featuring Larry Coryell along with Cream’s Jack Bruce and Mitch Mitchell, a Hendrix sideman.

However, far more often, Murali — which translates from Sanskrit to “divine flute” — sounds like his own man, someone who has taken far more from Carlos Santana, Otis Redding (in particular in his gruff vocal style) and Hendrix than he ever did from Miles, Dizzy or dad. He mixes and matches like an enthusiastic chef, and stirs it up just as much.

Over this CD/DVD set — due on January 22, 2013 via Shake-It-Sugar Records — the younger Coryell is just as apt to unfurl a sizzling original like the Al Green-ish “I Can’t Give You Up” as he is to take a sharp left turn into an classic R&B slow-cooker like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” He can play it tough, as on his nasty city blues “Sugar Lips,” and then give himself completely over to Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” Murali even references Earth Wind and Fire’s groovy update of the Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life” during the Disc 1-closing original “Closer to You Baby.”

The CD, recorded live at Club Helsinki in New York last July, serves as musical introduction to this fizzy melding of old and new, while the companion DVD (from a August 2010 show at the Roots and Blues Festival in Salman Arm, BC) provides its own jolting surprise: Even as Murali offers alternate takes on “Sugar Lips,” “The Blues is Taking its Place” and “In the Room with Jimi,” it remains no small wonder that this sound (an oaken delight) is emanating from a man so youthful and — well, really — so white.

Intellectually, you knew what he looked like. He’s right there on the cover. But there’s still a convention-cracking, very visceral response in watching Murali Coryell perform live. Somewhere Hendrix, who used to confound expectations in much the same way, must be smiling.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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