Allan Holdsworth, “The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever”

“Hazard Profile” with Soft Machine (1974)–Watch on YouTube

A reluctant guitarist (he wanted to play saxophone but his grandparents couldn’t afford one), Allan Holdsworth didn’t even start playing the instrument until he was 17. He learned quickly.

While he never achieved mass acclaim, he earned the respect of other musicians – Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa and John McClaughlin, to name a few. His fleet-fingered solos and original chord progressions amazed audiences and defied imitators.

Holdsworth moved around a lot, pursuing his own muses from group to group. A partial list includes Soft Machine, U.K., The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Tempest and Gong. The latter’s Gazeuse (Expresso in U.S.)  is listed as one of the 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die in the book by Tom Moon.

Allan Holdsworth, August 6, 1946-April 16, 2017

“The Sixteen Men of Tain” on Spotify


Larry Coryell, The “Godfather of Fusion”

Larry Coryell and Eleventh House Live in Oslo (1975)–Watch on YouTube

Music genres get named and walls go up. Jazz lives in one room; rock ‘n roll in another. Purists don’t like intruders. Then along comes a musician like Larry Coryell and he doesn’t just knock on the door, he kicks it down. As a jazz-rock guitarist, he helped launch a new genre himself, fusion.

Coryell (April 2, 1943-February 19, 2017) came of age in the rock era, but he was a guitarist who had a healthy respect for jazz forbears like Wes Montgomery. For some listening suggestions, check out Mark Myers’ excellent blog JazzWax. His February 21st and 22nd posts provide a helpful survey of Coryell’s career, as well as memories from artists that Coryell collaborated with or inspired–Gary Burton, Randy Brecker, Steve Khan and John Scofield.*

“If music has something to say to you, whether it’s jazz, country-and-western, Indian music or Asian folk music, go ahead and use it.” Larry Coryell

I started this blog because I’m endlessly curious about different music styles. When someone asks, “What do you like to listen to?” I have a hard time coming up with a single answer. Like Coryell, I want to walk into different rooms. Thanks to artists like him, we can.

*Scofield, who just won two Grammys for his genre-mixing Country For Old Men, will be at the Dakota in Minneapolis on Saturday, February 25.

“General Mojo’s Well-Laid Plan” with the Gary Burton Quartet on Spotify