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Lage Lund: Looking Forward

Matthew Warnock By

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Growing up in Norway, a young Lage Lund dreamt of moving to New York, though not to play guitar, but to break dance in the NY subway system. Luckily for jazz guitar fans, this dream was never realized. Instead, Lund picked up the guitar at the age of thirteen and hasn't looked back. Since then, he has recorded on numerous records as a sideman, released three albums under his own name, and won the most prestigious jazz competition in the world, 2005's Thelonious Monk Guitar Competition.

Aside from his impressive résumé as a jazz player, Lund has also excelled as a student of the art form. After receiving a Fulbright award in 2002, Lund enrolled in Julliard's full-scholarship jazz degree, becoming the first electric guitarist ever to be admitted to that prestigious program. Since moving to the Big Apple, Lund has performed at some of the city's top jazz clubs, including the 55 Bar, Smalls and the Jazz Gallery, as well as gracing the stages of the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center alongside some of the biggest names in jazz, including Wynton Marsalis, Ingrid Jensen and Seamus Blake.

Always on the move with his music, Lund released his second record for Criss Cross in 2010. Unlikely Stories features the all-star lineup of drummer Bill Stewart, bassist Ben Street and pianist Edward Simon. Recorded in a short, six-hour session, Unlikely Stories has garnered considerable attention from critics and fans alike, providing yet more momentum to an already fertile career for this young jazz guitar lion.

All About Jazz: Unlikely Stories was released on the Criss Cross label. It seems that, when jazz artists record with a label like Criss, it's done fairly quickly, as far as time spent in the studio. It might only be an afternoon or maybe a day in the studio and the album is finished. How did the recording process work out for you this time around?

Lage Lund: Usually the way it works with Criss Cross is we have about six hours to do the record. Everything moves fairly quickly. There's not a lot of endless take-after-take situations, but I prefer to do it that way anyway. It's not a lot of time, and certainly it's nice to have two days to record, because you never know what's going to happen on any given day. Two days would be nice but, on the other hand, I don't mind having to keep things moving; not getting bogged down with one tune.

I find that if I spend too much time listening back to tracks they start to change. We might adjust things that we wouldn't have, if we didn't spend so much time listening back to the track—for better or for worse. We can also get accustomed to playing in the studio, as opposed to playing as if we're on a gig, which can produce different results as well.

AAJ: Because you only had six hours in the studio, and you recorded all original material, did you rehearse a lot before you went in to record the album?

LL: No, not really. For this record we only had one real rehearsal with the whole band. It was a dream band for me, having those guys together, but it was difficult to get these guys all in one room because of their schedules. I was happy that we managed to get that one day together. We had the day in the studio and a rehearsal the day before, which was more than I had expected. Ben and I had played a lot of that music before, mostly on gigs. Bill had also done some gigs where we played some of those tunes, but Ed had never played any of those tunes.

They all did an amazing job. Not just playing each tune correctly, but doing something with them almost instantly. They didn't just plough through it. They really got into each tune. There were some things that I might've done differently if we had more rehearsals, but it's really nice to get someone's first impression on a tune, when it's still new and fresh to them. I think that can be interesting to listen for sometimes as well.

AAJ: Now that you've released albums with a label, Criss Cross, and have self-produced an album, which do you prefer?

LL: I think they both have their pros and cons. Obviously, the great thing about working with a label is that everything is paid for. The studio is covered, the guys get paid. You don't have to come up with a chunk of money to cover that, which could be tricky to make happen. However, I think if you're able to do that it's a great thing. For one, you have complete control over what you've recorded once it's done. All the revenue would go back to you, so it's a worthwhile thing, especially today when being on a label doesn't mean as much as it used to. Labels used to be very important because they'd take care of distribution. But, with more people buying their music online, distribution is becoming less important, as far as getting a record onto store shelves is concerned.

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