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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.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.