Farewell to A Dear Friend… Larry Coryell

[Jakarta, LTTW] One of the pioneers of Jazz Fusion, Larry Coryell, died on Sunday, Feb 19th, 2017 in New York from heart failure. He was 73 years old. Coryell had been in New York to perform last Friday and Saturday night at Iridium club.

He certainly deserves a special place in the history books of Jazz Fusion. Introduced to piano at the age of four by his mother, he then switched to guitar in his teens. In an interview with Musicguy247, he mentioned “What sparked me to getting into the guitar was the mobility of the instrument–I had been taking piano lessons, but the piano, although a great instrument, was large, staid, and kind of ‘establishment’, whereas the guitar was portable—it was like a poor man’s piano, and that appealed to me”.

Although he counted country guitarists Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry among his early inspirations, he also took cues from Jazz masters such as Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, and John Coltrane, among others. He was also inspired by popular music of the period, such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan, and worked to bridge the styles of jazz and rock music into his technique.

In 1966, he formed a psychedelic band called the Free Spirits, a band that emphasized more complex instrumental improvisation soloing by Coryell and Sax/Flute player, Jim Pepper. Along with his drummer Bob Moses, they joined Gary Burton Quartet and generated what some music historians called the first Jazz Fusion band.

Gary Burton Quartet in Berlin 1967, uploaded by JR Ellison.

Coryell embraced many types of music during his long career. “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 told an interviewer in 1968 according to the New York Times.

His most noted breakthrough album was ‘Spaces’, recorded in 1969 with other innovators of Jazz Fusion such as John McLaughlin, Miroslav Vitous, Chick Corea, and Billy Cobham. All of whom made great contributions to Jazz Fusion throughout the 1970s. He played with McLaughlin again in the Guitar Trio that also featured the flamenco maestro Paco DeLucia.

Since then, Larry Coryell had performed and recorded a myriad of works, either as a soloist, as part of his band Eleventh House, or in collaboration with Herbie Mann, Charles Mingus, Stéphane Grapelli, Miles Davis, and many more. He also performed in our parent organization’s Sacred Rhythm Festival in Kyoto, Japan, in 2004.

Recently, he worked on opera adaptations of Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’. He also released a new album called Brefoot Man: Sanpaku last October, and a new Eleventh House album ‘Seven Secrets’ is scheduled for release on June 2nd. His music continues to inspire musicians and enthusiasts worldwide and will continue for a very long time.

Rest in Peace Larry. (SBF/LC/RS/NYT)

Image source: This image is a derivative of “Larry Coryell 168“, a photograph taken in 2013 by Jarek Pępkowski, uploaded by Wtg to Wikimedia Commons, where it was obtained, with slight zoom, crop, and added rectangle, as well as added photo credit, used under CC BY-SA 3.0. We therefore release this work under the same license.


Water of Life

by Pattraditya P.

Just a few years back, I used to drink alcoholic beverages without knowing much of anything. Going to the bar at the time was pretty much about hanging out and getting drunk. I had no idea that there’s a long and an interesting history behind alcoholic drinks, not to mention the categories along with the appropriate occasions or time to have them. Fortunately, it came the time when I was told that “serious” drinking is not at all about getting drunk or how much you can drink, and to tell you the truth, this “little piece” of knowledge not only has saved me from further embarrassment, but also given me much better enjoyment in drinking. Since that moment, my curiosity just gets bigger and bigger.

One of the things that I found out later was the origin of the word whisk(e)y; it was derived from the Gaelic words Uisge Beatha, meaning ‘Water of Life’ in English. For a guy who associated drinking with getting drunk, I must say that this history was just too ‘philosophical’ for me. The first question that came to my mind was how could it be? Followed by who made it first, and when?

Well, no one knows exactly when the whisk(e)y distilleries were first established, but there is evidence showing that Celtic Christian monks in monasteries already started distilling whisky in the early 15th century. The whisk(e)y then was intended as a remedy for stomach ache, paralysis, smallpox, and even to preserve the health and prolong the life. So, based on such finding, the puzzle over my head was solved.

The dismissal of the monasteries between 16th and 17th century caused the monks to apply their knowledge and skills in society. From then on, the know-how in making whisk(e)y had spread to a larger public; drinking whisk(e)y quickly became the daily part of social life. Whisk(e)y became a gesture to greet and welcome others besides a drink to warm themselves during winter season. Whisk(e)y also had transformed into a bond that strengthens not only social relationships but also fraternity among warriors in war.

So having whisk(e)y is not about getting drunk; it’s a culture, having its own history, values, and symbols, and we owe every enjoyment in having a whisk(e)y to the Celtic monks.

Rise of the Scotch Whisky

At the end of 19th century, there was a pest problem in France. The beetle devastated French vineyards, and within just a few years, wine and brandy had disappeared everywhere. The Scots were quick to fill in the subsequent unserved demand of high alcohol beverage (spirit) with Scotch whisky. By the time the French vineyard recovered, Scotch whisky already positioned itself as the preferred choice of spirit.

The emergence of this early industrialisation reached even the most remote valleys in the Scottish Highlands. The rural farms with distillation became economically independent companies. New train routes were made available, reaching the farthest corners of Scotland, so that the malt whisky became easily distributed to the cities. At this time, blended whisky was the most popular demand; the single malt whisky preferred by the Scots was utilized as a spice for blended whisky elsewhere. Such a blend gave the world many popular brands like Dewar’s, Haig, Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, and Ballantine’s. The international demand for blended whisky made Scots companies grew, and the name Scotch became a byword for whisky.

At the time, the whole whisky industry heavily depended on the Commonwealth with British crown colonies, and United States. So when World War I, and the prohibition for alcoholic beverages in the US (1919-1933) took place, the whisky companies faced serious problems. The recovery began at the end of prohibition, and when Britain was allowed to pay its war debts to the US in the form of whisky.

After the war, concentration happened in Scotch whisky distilleries. The global expansion led by US and Britain created stiff competition, so distilleries either merged with or taken over by the big players. Scottish Distiller’s Company Ltd. became the winner and took over many companies and distilleries.

Unnoticed by the big players, the family-owned Glenfiddich distilleries marketed their single malt Scotch whisky globally. The marketing success made their product recognized as a specific type of whisky as we know now. When the big players woke up, Glenfiddich already had its piece of the pie in the market. Today, Glenfiddich is single malt whisky market leader, the number one top-selling single malt whisky not only in the UK, but also globally.


GlenfiddichGlenfiddich has been established for more than 128 years (est. 1886/1887) by William Grant in Dufftown, Scotland, in the Glen of the River Fiddich. In Gaelic, the name Glenfiddich means ‘Valley of the Deer’, hence the presence of a stag on Glenfiddich bottles. Glenfiddich is one of the few single malt whisky distilleries to remain entirely family owned and is now managed by the fifth generation of William Grant.

According to Scotch Whisky Association, there are 5 whisky regions in Scotland based on its geography. Glenfiddich distillery is located in Speyside in the northeast region of Scotland, a region considered to be the center of single malt Scotch whisky production. Scotch whisky brands from Speyside are mostly popular particularly outside Britain, this include brands such as The Glenlivet, Glenfarclas and The Macallan.

Around 1920s, despite of the prohibition to manufacture, transport, or sell alcoholic beverages in the USA, Glenfiddich dared to increase their whisky production. This move placed them in a strong position, as they were able to fullfill the increasing demand of good quality and well-aged whisky following the retraction of the prohibition.

As there were many whisky distilleries that went bankrupt or were sold off in the 60s and 70s, Glenfiddich on the other hand did a few major breakthroughs. First, Glenfiddich teamed up with Hans Schleger, a designer and 20th century pioneer for concept of brand/corporate identity, to release a triangle shaped bottle that was considered radical at the time. The new shape then becomes the iconic identifier of Glenfiddich.

Glefiddich Triangle BottleGlenfiddich iconic triangle bottle was released in1961, by Hans Schleger

Secondly, marketing campaign outside Scotland and Britain has positioned single malt whiskies as a specific category of whisky as we know now. Lastly, Glenfiddich was the first ever distillery that provided a visitor’s center for the convenience of their guests.

Single Malt Whisky Glenfiddich CampaignSingle Malt Whisky Glenfiddich campaign in USA in 1963

Glenfiddich was one of the first few alcoholic beverage brands or distilleries to realize the importance of duty-free markets for spirits, and had recently started to cover its bottles with tin tubes which can be presented as gifts or souvenirs. This marketing strategy succeeds in placing Glenfiddich as the most popular single malt whisky and has won more awards than any other single malt Scotch whisky at the International Spirits Challenge and International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Appreciating Culture

Corporate world is often considered to have nothing to do with culture, or vice versa, but there are actually sectors that were born out of cultural manifestations as we can see with whisky in Scotland. I am sure that there are other industrial sectors that departed from equal spirit. The food or culinary sector for example, most emerged from certain localities; Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Thai food or restaurants are just a few things that prove my point. The same thing with the musical instrument industry; jembe, tabla, bongo, flamenco guitar are among other instruments that originated from local musical traditions. Drinking whisky has long been a tradition in the culture of the Scots. The whisky itself becomes one of the flagships of their culture in the global world.

From my experience, knowing more about the things I like, may it be the history, context or the purpose behind the making, certainly change the way and the level I appreciate things, in a better sense of course. So, let’s dig in more into each other’s culture; let’s continue to cultivate a better cross cultural understanding as the world seems to experience a trending great divides. [GW/SWA/SO/SPS/SMW/SBF]


Chuck Berry announces new album at his 90th birthday

Rock n Roll Legend Chuck Berry announces new album at his 90th birthday

[Jakarta, LttW] Chuck Berry celebrated his 90th birthday on Tuesday, October 18th (born 1926) with announcement that he will release new album in 2017 trough Dualtone records. The album titled simply “Chuck”, and it will be his first studio album since 1979’s “Rock It”.

“I’ve worked on this record for a long time,” Berry said in statement. “Now I can hang up my shoes!”

While new original songs written, recorded and produced by the rock and roll legend himself, it was recorded in various studios around his hometown St. Louis and features Jimmy Marsala (Berry’s bassist for forty years), Robert Lohr (piano), Keith Robinson (drums), and his children Charles Berry Jr. (guitar) and Ingrid Berry (harmonica).

“Cover the spectrum from hard driving rockers to soulful, thought provoking time capsules of a life’s work” said Berry Jr. about the new songs.

Paul Roper of Dualtone said “It is a great honor to be a part of this record and the broader legacy of Chuck Berry. This body of works stands with the best of his career and will further cement Chuck as one of the greatest icon of rock and roll.”

He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, and was in the inaugural class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. According to Rolling Stone magazine he “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance”, and place #5 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2010. Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Culture and History placed his classic 1973’s red Cadillac Eldorado on display as part of permanent collection last month. Therefore, Chuck Berry would be synonymous with rock and roll itself.

Congratulations and happy birthday Mr. Berry.

Chuck Berry on web: http://chuckberry.com/

Isao Tomita, a Japanese Pioneer of Electronic Music, Died at 84

[Jakarta, LttW] Japanese pioneer of electronic music Isao Tomita has died of heart failure last Thursday (May 5th) at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital, at the age of 84. A private funeral on Saturday and Sunday was attended only by close family members.

Tomita started his career as a composer/arranger for Nippon Columbia Co.,Ltd where he composed a myriad of works, including the theme music used by the Japanese gymnastics team in the 1956 Olympics and music for the animation Kimba the White Lion by Ozamu Tezuka (Manga artist known as the creator of Astro Boy).

He was one of the people who is responsible for bringing analog synthesizer and electronic music to Japan in early 70’s, when he imported Moog modular synthesizer at a time when such an instrument was expensive and rarely used. Tomita was best known for a series of albums featuring synthesizer arrangments of classical works, such as Snowflakes Are Dancing album which was nominated for four Grammy Award in 1975, including Best Classical Album of the Year (The first Japanese national nominated for a Grammy). The album consist entirely of Claude Debussy’s beautiful tone paintings, here’s an example from the album.

He had collaborated with numerous artist, one of them is a professional taiko drumming troupe Kodo on their 1994 album’s Nasca Fantasy. Listen to Kodo with Isao Tomita’s El Humahuaqueno below.

Some of his pupils that noted as western pop music pioneers in Japan are Ryuichi Sakamoto and the techno-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra. Please check out his interview and Hideki Matsuke of Yellow Magic Orchestra / Logic System by Yu Onoda here.

On May 8th 2016, a message on Tomita’s official Facebook page said he was working on a new musical titled Dr. Coppelius and that he knew he might not see it finished. In December 2015, he told The Japan Times “My priority right now is staying healthy, but I’d like to finish Dr. Coppelius as much as possible so that, even if something happens to me, others could finish it.”

Dr. Coppelius was scheduled to be performed in Shibuya’s Bunkamura, Tokyo, Japan on November 11th and 12th.

Rest in peace, Mr. Tomita..


For further info about Isao Tomita, please check his lecture.

*From various sources

David Bowie, a Pop Icon, Died of Cancer

[Jakarta, LTTW] Pop icon David Bowie has died on Sunday, at the age of 69 after battling cancer in secret for 18 months. His death was confirmed on his official Facebook page: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family…”

He just released a new album Blackstar and a haunting video which shows him on hospital bed while singing “Look up here, I’m in heaven” on Friday – on his birthday. It appears to be a farewell from a man who knew he was dying. His longtime producer Tony Visconti added that “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of art”.

He was born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947 in Brixton, South London. At his teenage, he was forming a several bands and led the group as he called himself Davy Jones, and by 1966 he was David Bowie. David Bowie’s career began with a handful of mostly forgotten singles but a head full of ideas. It was not until 1969 that the splash onto the charts would begin, with the Space Oddity (which peaked at No. 5 in the UK) from the album Man of Words, Man of Music.

1972 was certainly the year that Bowie began to get a glimpse of the power of pop. His role act as Ziggy Stardust on music performance/album of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, considered as the performance that turned Bowie into a star. In the same year, he produced album for Lou Reed (Transformer) – a seminal record that to this day enthuses critics the world over and spawned the surprise hit, Walk on the Wild Side, a fairytale of the dark side of New York. His first US No. 1 was collaboration with John Lennon on Fame, which topped the charts in 1975. In the late 1970s he produced three albums collaboration with Brian Eno known as the Berlin trilogy.

He combined his rock career with appearances in films. Bowie’s acting career took off with his performance in The Man Who Fell to Earth which using Stomu Yamash’ta score, followed by roles in films such as The Last Temptation of Christ, Basquiat, and The Prestige.

He earned admiration across the musical spectrum, from pop star like Madonna to classical composers like Philip Glass, who created two symphonies based on his albums Low and Heroes. Nirvana chose to sing The Man Who Sold the World, the title song of Bowie’s 1970 album, in their set for MTV Unplugged in 1993.

Rest in Peace Mr. Bowie..


*From various sources