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It's clear from the first notes of guitarist Lage Lund's Early Songs that he's an unwavering acolyte of classic jazz. This excellent quintet recording is an inspired, energetic blend of standards and contemporary tunes grounded in the hard-bop tradition.
. Lund displays fire and vibrancy on "You Do Something to Me," playing riffs and building ideas as clear as a bell. The band's version of Bud Powell's contagiously cheerful "Celia" has excellent interplay among Lund, pianist Danny Grissett and bassist Orlando LeFleming. And Jim Hall would smile at the perfect romantic pitch with which Lund plays the ballad "Quiet Now," the mood enhanced by drummer Kendrick Scott's tender cymbal whispers.
The group stretches out more on newer pieces like the hard-driving "Scrapeyard Orchestra" and "Poppy." On both, Marcus Strickland gnashes at the upper register on his gritty tenor while Lund lays down some intense, flowing notes. Strickland also plays a sweet soprano on "Around the World in a Bottle" and the mischievous "Vonnegut," a composition with an intriguing split personality. The band meshes perfectly on "The Incredibly Profound Song," an ambitious and wonderfully arranged tune where every band member stands out.
Lund's straight-ahead style is the mark of a self-assured musician, confident without the need for affectation. All he does is tell pleasant stories with character and clarity. Lund's effortless and masterful playing gives the band an excellent lead to follow and the overall cohesiveness and sound makes Early Songs an easy winner.
Track Listing: Scrapeyard Orchestra; Poppy; You Do Something To Me; Vonnegut; Around The World In A Bottle; Quiet Now; Celia; The Incredibly Profound Song.
Personnel: Lage Lund: guitar; Orlando LeFleming: bass; Danny Grissett: piano; Kendrick Scott: drums; Marcus Strickland: tenor and soprano saxophones.