Larry Coryell: Rene's Theme
Larry Coryell (acoustic guitar)
Spaces (Vanguard VMD-79345)
Composed by Rene Thomas.
Recorded: New York, 1969
Rating: 99/100 (learn more)
"Rene's Theme" was written by the Belgian Rene Thomas, a gifted guitarist who caught the attention of such jazz stars as Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker and Stan Getz, each of whom asked him to perform with them. Yet despite his high standing in the jazz business community, he never achieved any reasonable amount of fame outside it.
Larry Coryell and John McLaughlin present "Rene's Theme" as a Django-inspired acoustic duet. Both players would often pick up an acoustic guitar in those days, even though their stars were rising due to their electric work. For that reason, inclusion of this piece was a surprise. But what a performance it is! The two players trade off at high velocities. Each provides the traditional rhythmic backing chords necessary to make each other's single-note runs sound as if they were coming straight out of Paris from the 1930s. Well, maybe not quite like that because there are modern flourishes thrown in. But you get the idea. The trading back and forth is phenomenal. The duo has it all together from melody and fast-lick improvisation to stellar timekeeping. This is one of the all-time great acoustic guitar duets. Coryell has often said he believes McLaughlin's best playing appeared on the Spaces album. I think that is a bit of wishful thinking based upon pride of ownership. But I would say that some of the best of Coryell's own playing appears there. That can happen when great musicians push each other.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky