Murali Coryell – Mr. Senator (2016)

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As a son of one of the most vital guitarists of the last fifty years, Murali Coryell will always be linked to Larry Coryell (which admittedly, I just did here) but eight albums into his own career, the younger Coryell has clearly excelled in forging his own path. Mr. Senator continues with Murali’s tastefully soulful stamp on blues-rock, a consistent effort from the singer and songwriter as well as guitarist.

Often sounding more like a spawn of Stevie Ray Vaughan than of Larry, Murali continues to excel in the blues-rock arena with the same potency as his dad his done in the world of jazz and the world he practically invented, jazz-rock. The similarities to Vaughan come more honestly than you might think, though: both are indebted to the guitar titan Jimi Hendrix, a man who Coryell knew personally as a child. And like both of these guys before him, Coryell’s backed most of the time by just drums (Ernie Durawa) and bass (either his band bassist Chris Alcaraz or bass legend Tony Levin).

“Mr. Senator” took its inspiration from the decidedly uninspiring election cycle that just mercifully ended, and the funky soul tune with an irresistible hook showcases Coryell’s knack for sharp composing, tasty licks and a deep, grainy vocal all wrapped up in one. The autobiographical “Dysfunctional Child” strongly follows up on the title track, a different kind of blues that reveals that growing up in a household where the head of it was making some music history wasn’t always a day at the beach.

On the other hand, the perks of music legends like George Benson showing up at the house left a positive mark on Coryell as he was moved to cover the Leon Russell jazz ballad “This Masquerade” in smoky style similar Benson’s hit version of it, but Coryell’s own, blues-filtered take becomes apparent during his solo turn. In another nod to nostalgia, Coryell goes into power trio mode and delivers a scratchy version of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”

Coryell departs from the trio format when he brings on Bill Evans to contribute a sax stack and sax solo that’s a shot of soul giving a boost to “Tuff Love”, and called in Louie Ortega from the Texas Tornadoes for a second guitar on a couple of tracks and an extra vocal on “Dysfunctional Child.” The man from Connecticut shows more fealty to Texas-bred blues with a believable stab at Tex-Mex music; “Tejanos” even goes as far as Spanish lyrics, and the jaunty mood just feels like the perfect way to end the album.

Mr. Senator dropped last month on Shake-It-Sugar Records.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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