Lage Lund: Looking Forward
LL: A lot of the gigs that I do are as a sideman, and for most of those I'm the only chordal instrument. I'm used to working without a piano and functioning as a piano in an ensemble. I really like it. I love accompanying horn players in a trio. I love the freedom of that. But, I also really love playing with pianists, at least the ones that listen and can work with a guitar in the group.
One of the reasons I ended up having piano on this session was that I write most of my material on the piano. I don't write much on the guitar, mostly at the keyboard. So most of the sounds I have when I'm working on a new tune come from that instrument. Also, I always wanted to work with Ed and this was a good opportunity to do that. I don't think I have a specific preference for a trio, quartet, quintet or whatever. For me, it's more of who I'm playing with than what instrument they're playing that matters more.
AAJ: Do you have to change your playing style when working with a pianist?
LL: I think it changes in the same way I would change my playing when working with different drummers or bass players. It's more a matter of changing things so that they work better with the group as a whole. When I'm the only chordal instrument and I'm accompanying myself, my harmony becomes freer. I'll take more, not chances, but I'll move the harmony around here and there as I'm playing, because I can. With piano, a lot of times their voicings will lead me to a different space. Where I'm more engaged in a conversation with them, rather than moving the harmony around as much as I would in a trio setting.
AAJ: There's a picture of you on the cover with an archtop guitar. Is that the guitar you used for the recording?
LL: That's actually not the guitar I used. The guitar I used on the record was a Sadowsky Jim Hall model. They took some pictures with me and that guitar, but the label didn't think they turned out well, so they used an older picture that looked better.
AAJ: Is the Sadowsky your guitar of choice right now?
LL: Yeah. It's kind of like a [Gibson] 175 and was based on the D'Aquisto that Jim Hall used to play. It's a great guitar. I've had it for a little over a year now and it's very versatile and even. It works very well in a quartet, where I need to cut through as the main melodic voice, or in a trio, where I need that bigger acoustic range for voicings and the like.
AAJ: A lot of modern guys seem to be using older Ibanez Artists, Fender Telecasters or even Fender Stratocasters. Do you feel that by using an archtop it helps differentiate you a bit from other players, at least as far as your tone is concerned?
LL: I've always been drawn to a more acoustic sound in music. I think that's why I tend to gravitate more towards acoustic guitar. I like to feel that connection to the direct production of the sound, which you can only get with an acoustic instrument. I like tube amps and I I'll use different pedals, but I think what I'm going for is the root of the tone, like you would get with a nylon- string guitar. If I used a Tele or Strat I don't think I would have that connection. It's just my personal preference, but I like that rounder, fatter tone that I get with those types of acoustic instruments. But, that can change someday too; who knows?
AAJ: What kind of amps are you running through?
LL: I'm always experimenting with amps, and I've gone through lots of different models. I still really like older Polytones, they're great amps. I've also gotten into the sound quality I can get out of a good tube amp. Lately I've been using an '81 Fender Concert that I modified to give me some of those Polytone qualities, along with that sparkle you get from a tube amp. On the record I was using a Music Man, but I'm still experimenting with that part of my sound. I used to only play solid state amps, but now I'm checking out more tube amps, so that part of my playing is evolving right now.
AAJ: You travel a lot with your group and as a sideman. Do you find that it's easier to find say a Fender amp when you're overseas than a Polytone, which might be harder to get?
LL: Absolutely. You can always depend on finding a Fender Twin or Deluxe no matter where you go. It might not be great, but at least you can get used to it as it'll be consistent. So that's part of it. The Jim Hall is more adaptable to that kind of situation, more so than the larger archtop I used to use. I really like the Sadowsky for that reason, among others. It's a great guitar for bringing into the studio and for taking with me when I hit the road.
Lage Lund, Unlikely Stories (Criss Cross, 2010)
Will Vinson, The World Through My Shoes (19/8 Records, 2010)
Seamus Blake, Bellweather (Criss Cross, 2009)
Jimmy Green, Mission Statement (Sunnyside, 2009)
Lage Lund, Early Songs (Criss Cross, 2008)
Lage Lund Trio + 1, Standards (Self Published, 2007)
All Photos: Jimmy Katz