Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

7

Julian Lage: Arclight

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Julian Lage's star has been on the rise since the premiere of Julian at Eight—the award winning 1997 documentary short about the precocious guitar prodigy's childhood years. Since then, Lage has become a key collaborator to modern masters like Gary Burton, Jim Hall and Fred Hersch. Lage's widely acclaimed virtuosity is uncontestable, yet he remains a tonal traditionalist—an aspect reinforced on Arclight, the first recording to feature him exclusively playing a solid body electric guitar. Despite the overdriven twang of his Fender Telecaster, he continues to eschew unnecessary efx that would diminish the clarity of his crystalline cadences.

Joined by upright bassist Scott Colley (a fellow band mate from Burton's group) and ubiquitous Downtown drummer Kenny Wollesen, Lage narrows his focus to concentrate on original material that evokes the folksy quality heard in Keith Jarrett's beloved 1970s American Quartet. Providing historical context and stylistic continuity, he rounds out the session's delightfully appealing program with a handful of obscure Great American Songbook standards from the pre-bop era.

The end result is a brisk but bracing affair, with few cuts lasting over four minutes. Lage and company spin minor variations on each of the catchy numbers' melodic, harmonic and rhythmic foundations without undue extrapolation—an approach suggested by producer and singer-songwriter Jesse Harris, who wisely encouraged the trio to stick with first takes, capturing the spontaneous energy of their initial renditions.

Exuberant tunes like "Activate" and the surf-inflected "Prospero" careen with rollicking abandon, while "Stop Go Start" provides introspective respite, exuding the sort of aleatoric impressionism heard on Room (Mack Avenue, 2015), Lage's sublime duet with fellow guitar wizard Nels Cline. The record's four cover tunes unveil Lage's Americana influences, especially his more Frisellian tendencies, as heard in a rustic ramble through W.C. Handy's soulful "Harlem Blues."

Colley and Wollesen's adroit interplay provides far more than mere time keeping, but with each piece no longer than the average pop song, the majority of the spotlight inevitably shines on the leader, whose brief but tasteful solos brim with flinty turns of phrase and darting fretboard runs. Emblematic of its title, Arclight reveals another facet of Lage's burgeoning artistry, finding him moving beyond the acoustic asceticism that defined his earliest recordings and into a more expansive mode of expression.

Track Listing: Fortune Teller; Persian Rug; Nocturne; Supera; Stop Go Start; Activate; Presley; Prospero; I'll Be Seeing You; Harlem Blues; Ryland.

Personnel: Julian Lage: guitar;Scott Colley: bass; Kenny Wollesen: drums, percussion.

Title: Arclight | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties" CD/LP/Track Review The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Matador 4" CD/LP/Track Review Matador 4
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Numbers" CD/LP/Track Review Numbers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2017
Read "3rio" CD/LP/Track Review 3rio
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Resting Spirit" CD/LP/Track Review Resting Spirit
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Cuban Nocturne" CD/LP/Track Review Cuban Nocturne
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 7, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!