Fusion fans will certainly know the name Larry Coryell, one of the instigators of the jazz-rock art form back in the late 60's alongside other jazz luminaries such as Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, and Tony Williams. Prior to forming one of the seminal fusion bands of the era, The Eleventh House, Larry and sax great Steve Marcus got together for a few brief years in a group called Count's Rock Band, another pioneer of rock energy meeting the intricate nature of jazz. Now, over thirty years later, Coryell and Marcus, with help from drummer Steve Smith (Journey, Jean Luc Ponty, Vital Information, and various other Tone Center recordings), bassist Kai Eckhardt (Vital Information), and keyboard player Jeff Chimenti, have formed a new band, called Count's Jam Band.
It's apparent from the get-go that Coryell has lost none of the fire that made him an in-demand player back in the early days of fusion. "Scotland" and "Reunion" are two barnburners that feature constant, melodic trade-offs between Marcus and Coryell, that recall vintage Eleventh House or the Mahavishnu Orchestra. While the music is at all times complex and adventurous, the band does drop back and groove on occassion. Steve "The Count" Marcus proves that despite his age, he can still wail on the sax, much like a young Michael Brecker. Smith and Eckhardt also put in strong performances as well, with Eckhardt showing surprising fluidity on the bass. More highlights include the tender rendition of The Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the rip-roaring fest of "Foreplay", which is a great vehicle for Coryell's savage guitar playing.
Hopefully these guys can crank out another CD in the years to come, as their sound is fresh and inspiring in a sea of young fusion upstarts. For fusion and prog fans alike, you can't go wrong with this disc.