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The Julian Lage Trio at Richmond Congregational Church

Doug Collette By

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The Julian Lage Trio
Congregational Church
Richmond, Vermont
February 15, 2015

Striding from the vestibule to the stage of this tiny house of worship, The Julian Lage Trio were afforded a hearty round of applause, which was just a precursor to further acclamation in the form of whoops and hollers that became increasingly frequent during the course of their single ninety-minute set.

But a mutual admiration arose between performers and audience during the course of the late afternoon concert, an even more rare occurrence given the attendees were clearly looking to have their high expectations met. But Lage, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wolleson rose to the occasion, generating an almost indiscernible momentum through a sequence of varied tunes that, taken as a whole, suggest Julian Lage might well be the next renaissance man of jazz guitar.

It was impossible not to make comparisons to another figure of such stature, Pat Metheny, in hearing the fluid melodicism in "For Critter" and "Day and Age." But fingering a fair share of piercing, staccato notes, Lage displays some roots in the blues the likes of which the Missouri-born icon has never displayed to the same degree. There's even a palpable element of pop in some of Lage's compositions such as "Japan" reaffirming the breadth of his influences that include Jimmy Giuffre and Jim Hall.

In fact, homage to those icons led to some of the more open-ended, albeit abbreviated improvisations, that took place this frigid winter day. Moments before Wolleson's playing with his hands had started a three-way interaction that belied more segmented passages early in the set, those too polite transitions from Lage to Colley nevertheless distinguished by the latter's uncanny ability to bend notes on his stand-up bass.

The logic Lage and co imparted to their performance became clear during "Ryland," subsequently taking the form of a flourish of rippling melody on "Gardens," similar to that with which the trio began; Lage, Colley and Wolleson, among their other collective virtues, clearly have the discipline to work effectively in the recording studio.

Thus, the leader's announcement of a session planned for April was just one more reason all those present were so quick to come to their feet in a standing ovation when the ringing harmonic the guitarist hit as his final note dissipated into a dramatic, but brief silence just before the deserved applause erupted.

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