Review Summary: An electrifying jazz-fusion album with lightning-quick instrumentation - fans of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever will enjoy this album.
Back when this album was released in 1974, jazz-fusion wasn't a staple term in the music industry as it is today. Fusion bands such as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever were extremely popular during this period, having some of the largest sales for the genre. The Eleventh House is vastly underrated and often overlooked. Featuring the incredible Larry Coryell as its brainchild, Coryell is an insanely skilled and experimental guitarist, and is supported by an all-star array of musicians: drummer Alphonse Mouzon, keyboardist Mike Mandel, bassist Danny Trifan, and especially trumpeter Randy Brecker. Introducing The Eleventh House With Larry Coryell
is a spectacular, ten-song jazzfunkrockandrollpsychadelicfusion album that's a must-listen for any music listener.
The album opens with Birdfingers
, which begins with a wild drum introduction from Mouzon, riddled with toms, cymbals, high-hat, snare and bass. It's driving, focused, and energetic, sweeping in and out with crescendos and decrescendos. At :17 Brecker's fingers go to town on the trumpet, flying up and down in diverse scale patterns with Coryell firing along on his guitar. At :49 the song progresses to Brecker coming to the forefront, with him and Coryell trading on and off in each channel with Mandel and Trifan punching the song forward. Brecker absolutely shines on this track; he's incredible. His range and embouchre are phenomenal. The next movement features Mandel for a bit, then Coryell absolutely takes the track over with an amazing guitar solo beginning at 1:53. Mouzon provides solid percussion while Coryell goes on a scale-laden, string-bending spree. The song returns to the original movement, and the song concludes. An awesome opening track that's absolutely stunning due to its energy and pure musicianship, especially from Brecker and Coryell.
The Funky Waltz
is next with Mouzon plodding along with some noisemakers going on in the intro. The track is loaded with funk, but has a much slower tempo than the frantic "Birdfingers." 1:10 marks the next movement, with Coryell playing with a wah-wah effect on his guitar, then soloing until 2:14, finishing with a descending scale. 2:24 marks the next movement, with the intro noisemakers still sounding out over Coryell's plunking and Mandel's plinking and Trifan's funking. Coryell takes another solo, then drops off to a short Mandel solo. At 4:24, it drops off to Mouzon playing a stomping funk beat, with the rest of the band filtering in and out in a steady decrescendo, eventually ending at 5:15.
The third track is Low-Lee-Tah
, beginning auspiciously with an effect-laden guitar and Trifan on bass, with Mouzon and Brecker not being heard. Coryell again shows off his mastery of his instrument, with Mouzon entering at :47 along with Brecker, whose trumpet seems rather Middle Eastern in vibe with his slurs. At 1:39 he takes a solo, and he showcases his incredible range throughout. I'd kill to have this guy's embouchre. Trifan and Mouzon provide excellent support backing Brecker. Around 2:28 Brecker begins to solo, filled with vibratos and ample pull-offs and hammer-ons. The song winds along slowly and meticulously, taking a brief crescendo before decrescendoing a final time.
kicks off with the full band, with Brecker and Coryell bouncing off each other with scales until the :32 mark, with Mandel performing a solid solo with Trifan and Coryell playing a wah-loaded supporting role. Mandel's solo lasts until 1:28, and Brecker steps up with a resonating vibrato and taking a solo over the same support line. Forty seconds later, the band diverges with Coryell playing an extended, incredible string-breaking solo that lasts until 3:56, with Mouzon on the drumset steadily playing the floortoms and Trifan playing a funky bassline. The last forty seconds of the song returns to the main theme on a gradual decrescendo.
begins softly and moderately, with Brecker and Coryell again swapping back-and-forth, with Mandel and Trifan playing an eclectic line. At 1:17 Mandel takes a brief solo with Brecker in support and Mouzon playing on what sounds like PVC pipe, but it's his drumset. Coryell takes a solo at 1:57 with only Mouzon playing in support, but the rest of The Eleventh House step in gradually. Coryell's second solo is much quicker and is performed with more wah-wah than before, but the song is clearly a joy ride. The song drops at the 3:14 mark with Trifan taking a short bass run, with Coryell returning with a slow hammer-on and pull-off run. Mandel's keyboard runs sound like bells, and it's an excellent addition. Brecker's trumpet is bell-muted yet heard clearly over the chaotic fusion at this song's conclusion. The last two minutes of this song is phenomenal, with each member shining on his instrument.
The second half of this album begins with Yin
. Mouzon begins on the drumset with toms and snare, with Brecker on another Middle Eastern-sounding trumpet run. Mandel is softly heard in the background with a fitting chord progression. The opening minute is reminiscent of something you would hear in a James Bond or Mission: Impossible movie. Brecker's influence in the song is palpable; again, he shows off his incredible range and deadly embouchre. Mouzon sounds a little sloppy in places with his high-hat, but he disappears in the mix when Coryell commences with his first solo, which is one of Coryell's best on the entire album (although every single one is stellar to begin with). The half-way point of this song turns into an almost alien-vibe, with Coryell's effects make his guitar sound like a mix between an extraterrestrial and a mutant dolphin. Coryell clearly is the focal point on this track, with Brecker, Mandel, Trifan, and Mouzon stepping into the background. Brecker's brief run at 4:54 is great and Mandel's short solo shortly thereafter is also quite good, but this is definitely Coryell's showcase out of the ten tracks.
Theme For a Dream
is a short track, clocking in at 3:30. The song is a wonderful about-face on the album, greatly slowing down and letting Brecker have a major impact in the intro. Mandel's keyboard also sounds like bells as it did in "Joy Ride," and Mouzon's chromatic-in-nature tom fills are perfect pieces to the song. There is a soft guitar run at 1:35, and the song changes tempo once more, slowing down even moreso. Coryell's guitarwork is again impeccable, as is Brecker's trumpeting. The last thirty seconds of the track are the best, as the dream begins to end and the listener's consciousness begins to awaken.
The next song is Gratitude "A So Low,"
which begins with a swift arpeggiated run from Coryell on his own, with some natural harmonics. The song is much slower and more psychadelic, and it's all Coryell on the track. Even with the slower tempo, Coryell's instrumentation shines with each scale and run, gradually ending on a decrescendo at 3:25.
Ism - Ejercicio
begins with Mouzon and a twangy wah-guitar. :47 marks the next movement in the track, with Coryell beginning slowly and then frantically increasing speed behind Mouzon's tomwork. Coryell's fingers truly get a workout, and the next passage begins with a delayed keyboard effect, similar to the opening to Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle." Pretty awesome spot there. Brecker's trumpet also plays an integral role in the song, and even Mouzon is highlighted and emphasized in the track outside of his steady intros. The track ends with a wild Coryell run supported by Mouzon, Trifan, and Mandel, which eventually dissipates via decrescendo.
The final track is Right On, Y'All
, which is as groovy and as upbeat as the album's opener, just not as frantic. Starting and ending in such a similar style is superb in my eyes. Mandel's keyboards and Trifan's bass are heard clearly, playing triplets and other various rhythms. Just before the minute mark, Coryell takes his first solo and backed by Trifan's funky basslines. The main theme returns at 1:55, with Coryell playing some lower and cleaner notes. There is a new passage at around the 2:45 mark, which builds and builds into an eventual full-band explosion sans Brecker; one minute later, there is a wah-driven chord progression that is a reprise of the main theme. Brecker's trumpeting takes precedence, then there is a brief decrescendo. The song builds with an eighth-note-to-quarter-note run from Coryell, and the album ends on a crescendo. Brilliant conclusion to the album.
Simply put, this is a captivating and superb listen.
Right On, Y'All
Theme For a Dream
Note: the remixed version of this album features three new tracks from the Planet End