It’s hard to emerge from the shadow of a legend, but Murali Coryell has made peace with the fact that his father is famed blues guitarist Larry Coryell.
“He does things I can’t do. I do things he can’t do. We’re equal. So let’s play together!” the younger Coryell said.
And they will, as both Coryells headline the 28th annual Jazz in June festival this weekend. Murali’s set is 9 p.m. Thursday, while Larry’s is 9:15 p.m. Friday. Their collaboration will take place during Thursday’s set.
The younger Coryell accepted that the two are renowned for different aspects of the blues.
“My dad is known as a guitarist. He became famous for fusing jazz lines to rock sounds,” Murali Coryell said. “I’m known as a singer and a songwriter, not just a guitar player.”
His voice is an especially important element in his sound.
“People said, ‘You’re more of a soul singer than a blues singer. You can do some things that other singers can’t,’” he said. “I have a high standard. Soul and blues have traditionally had great black singers, and I’ve admired that and wanted to be like that.”
Murali Coryell has a unique relationship to his heroes. As a child, he met many of them via his father: “Jimi Hendrix held me as an infant,” he said. In his own career, he’s met many more, playing shows with greats like B.B. King and Buddy Guy, but he doesn’t let the presence of greatness overawe him.
“Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters — they were such individuals that doing what they did is impossible,” Murali Coryell said. “You’ve gotta do your own thing. It takes a while, but it’s worth it.”
His thing isn’t straight blues, but a free-flowing amalgam of soul, blues, rock and even some pop.
“I want to be a guy who turns people on to the blues. People think ‘blues,’ and they think of an old, black man playing an acoustic guitar. That’s one type of blues. It’s not just that,” he said. “It has to evolve.”
Evolution isn’t always greeted with open arms, but he’s prepared for the long run.
“You gotta keep doing your art and pushing forward. People will get it,” Murali Coryell said. “It’s a long haul. You get older and you get better. It’s not like you get too old to rock and roll.”
—Margo Valiante, 7 p.m. Thursday
—145th Army Big Band, 7:15 p.m. Friday
—Jeremy Thomas Quartet, 7:10 p.m. Saturday
—Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Jazz Band, 9 p.m. Saturday
Visit jazzinjune.org for locations.