Murali Coryell – Made in Texas
CD: 12 Songs, 52:00 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, Eclectic Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
Contrary to the old saying, sometimes one can judge a book – or CD – by its cover. The jacket design of Murali Coryell’s Made in Texas is colorful and dramatic, with a touch of psychedelics. A river gushes through a gorge, adorned by lush cacti sporting red berries. In the background, palm trees and golden clouds frame a rocky monument. The music inside is as vibrant as the art outside, even eclectic. Fear not, purists: the “E” word only applies to a couple of songs. Coryell counts Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana (with whom he lived) as two of his influences. Their style is clearly showcased on this twelve-track album, mixed with Murali’s unique oeuvre. Well-written original ditties like those reviewed below will get listeners’ hearts pumping and bodies jumping, while covers such as “Woman Don’t Lie” and “I Pity the Fool” provide familiar footholds near the end. On balance, this ensemble album lights the proverbial envelope on fire.
Murali is the son of jazz guitar legend Larry Coryell (a musician featured here) and author/actress Julie Coryell. He’s also the grandson of TV, film and stage actress Carol Bruce. Since fame runs in his bloodline, it’s no surprise that he’s had dinners with Miles Davis, opened for B.B. King, and played with Buddy Guy. He’s also acclaimed by Billboard, CNN, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. His affinity for languages and cultures (English, French, Spanish and Russian) has brought him to places as distant as Australia, Lebanon and the Caribbean.
Accompanying Murali (guitar and vocals) are Ernie Durawa on drums; Augie Meyers on Hammond organ, piano and Tiger organ; Speedy Sparks and Chris Alcaraz on bass; Paul Oscher on harmonica and piano; Peggy Stern on Fender Rhodes and background vocals; Jimmy Shortell on trumpet; Russell Remington on tenor sax; Joe Morales on alto sax; David Hamburger (no joke) on pedal steel guitar; the aforementioned Larry Coryell on guitar and harmony vocals; Harry Wilkinson on drums, and Gary Brown on bass.
The following three songs are the yee-haw-iest on the album, surefire dancefloor hits.
Track 03: “Big Love” – Go back to the ‘50s with this twisty tune, complete with surfer-style Hammond organ by Augie Meyers and great harmony on the chorus/refrain. Reminiscent of Santana at his best, it allows Murali to pay homage to one of his greatest inspirers. Even though it lasts two minutes and fifty-three seconds, that’s enough time to take one’s partner for a spin.
Track 04: “Ain’t it a Shame” – This one’s more of an air-guitar song than a dance number, but it’s also got a classic Texas blues beat and passionate harmonica from Paul Oscher. Check out how he propels his instrument of choice into the stratosphere in terms of pitch and timbre. Yow! Another plus: When Coryell sings lyrics like, “She keeps me satisfied, and you know just what that means,” one can vividly imagine the glint in his eyes and the leer on his face.
Track 10: “Satan’s Woman” – The tempo and instrumentation here are hotter than you-know-where. It starts off with ominous, trembling guitar and Murali’s warning, “Well, well, well, well, I’ll tell you about SATAN’S woma-a-an!” If that’s not a signal to hold on to your hats, blues fans, I don’t know what is.
Made in Texas may be a little too “out there” for some, but Coryell’s true blues is outstanding!