Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

1,017

Ulita Knaus and Julian Lage Aim for the Heights in Dusseldorf, Germany

Phillip Woolever By

Sign in to view read count
Ulita Knaus, Julian Lage Savoy Theatre Dusseldorf, Germany January 22, 2010
Heavily-hyped guitar wizard Julian Lage must know, as a fresh and youthful prodigy, that his time in the big spotlight could be coming. The experienced Ulita Knaus has already occupied centerstage and is now in a position to concentrate on making timeless music. Together, the pair set a high standard for this year's Jazz Today series tour, which they kicked off with their co-billing.
Knaus has an impressive vocal range and is visually attractive. Those qualities can provoke attention in some social circles, but in the entertainment industry they just put you in a long line of other talented, good- looking hopefuls. What sets Knaus apart from many other sultry songstresses is her excellent songwriting ability.


She personified still waters running deep during original songs like "Time," "Fly" and "I can Wait," showing her confident and competent scat abilities. By the time of keyboardist/collaborator Mischa Schumann's extended piano break during "Places to Be," he and versatile bassist Gerold Donker were locked in with crisp drummer Ole Seimetz, who cooked on a compact Canopus kit.

Knaus is an interpreter in the tradition of other jazz storytellers with her take on hybrid lounge poetry and bluesy ballads. The high point of her performance came during "In the City," when everything from the tightly pulsing backup to the stage lighting came together in near-perfect harmony. As interpreted by her, the material sounded worthy of "standard" songbook status: it was a charged, arena-level moment.

The show's only flaw, from an audience member's perspective, was inconsequential to the music. Schumann's keyboards were positioned in such a way that few patrons in the front-seat section could see his hands or the keys, which became an issue for those spectators during many piano interludes.

This tour, touted as a "best of" evening from Knaus' decade long catalog, offers the kind of engaging resume that deserves week-long Manhattan and California coast runs. Musically, it would seem only just that she receive a well-deserved opportunity to expand her fan base beyond its current, primarily German borders.

As for Lage, the future could be unlimited. He and his unique quintet were the crowd favorites on this evening. Lage's 1932 Gibson L5 sounded crystal-clear while his fingers were a blur moving up and down the frets during an ample sampling of his Grammy-nominated debut, Sounding Point (2009, Decca).

At this stage of his early-twenties career Lage still has to find a more mainstream signature sound to bring his artistry to the masses, but until then it will remain pleasure enough just to witness his already substantial skill. Whether or not he can eventually reach iconic status among a burgeoning fan base is impossible to predict, but he certainly appears to have a chance. Longer shots with lesser licks have paid off in the land of showbiz kids-turned-superstars, but reaching widespread lasting fame among followers of the music requires a bit of the magic characterizing a Charlie Christian, Les Paul or Jimi Hendrix.

While Lage handles the mixed blessing of maintaining a personal voice and being promoted as the next big thing with a level head, his energetic bandmates seemed to be having a great time, immediately engaging the audience. Lage's crew bubbled with a youthful exuberance that, even apart from the leader, rubbed off on the audience in the most complimentary sense.

Lage didn't show any jet-lag fatigue coming off his extended Eastern U.S. appearances. Instead, he appeared on stage as if bursting with earnest pride while displaying masterful chops during an hour-long romp that rotated group and trio formats in a continually entertaining mix. Indeed, he and his sidekicks took their freshly recruited bandwagon of customers on a ride that provided many smiles. At one early break a beautiful woman in the fourth row murmured "joyous," and many nearby patrons nodded in agreement.

Saxophonist Dan Blake was an MVP candidate while the entire ensemble (Jorge Roeder/bass,Tupac Mantilla/percussion,Aristedes Rivas/cello) cascaded through extended dialogues that seemed to hold many spontaneous contributions from the featured musicians amid intricately-chorded charts. Midway through a fifteen-minute introductory jam it became obvious that tonight wasn't simply going to consist of Lage showing off a series of well-rehearsed advertisements for himself.

When Lage explored a Southern USA-style shuffle, then drifted into pulling some Latin heartstrings, the mix was equally tantalizing and soulful, sparking an impressive flurry of emotion. A follow-up version of "Move" by Miles Davis illustrated Lage's rare and considerable range as both an improviser and a student of the giants of the past.

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Radio
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Read more articles
Love Hurts

Love Hurts

Mack Avenue Records
2019

buy
Modern Lore

Modern Lore

Mack Avenue Records
2018

buy
Arclight

Arclight

Mack Avenue Records
2016

buy
World's Fair

World's Fair

Modern Lore Records
2015

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Mar5Tue
Julian Lage
Le Poisson Rouge
New York, NY
Mar17Sun
Julian Lage
Porgy & Bess
Vienna, Austria
Mar18Mon
Julian Lage
Budapest Jazz Club
Budapest, Hungary
Mar24Sun
Julian Lage
Sala Clamores
Madrid, Spain
Mar27Wed
Julian Lage Trio
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Hamburg, Germany
€9
Mar28Thu
Julian Lage
Spor 5
Stavanger, Norway
Mar29Fri
Julian Lage Trio
Islington Assembley Hall
London, UK

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Live Reviews
The 2019 Tibet House U.S. Benefit Concert
By Mike Perciaccante
February 17, 2019
Live Reviews
JAZZTOPAD 2018
By Henning Bolte
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
America At The Paramount
By Mike Perciaccante
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
Brussels Jazz Festival 2019
By Martin Longley
February 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Gourmet At April Jazz Club
By Anthony Shaw
February 13, 2019
Live Reviews
Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science at Cologne Philharmonic
By Phillip Woolever
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Quentin Baxter Quintet At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
February 12, 2019