© Mack Avenue
September 15 - 21, 2019
Year of Release: 2018
Roger The Dodger
Whatever You Say Henry
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Julian Lage (last name pronounced "LAHJ"), is an American guitarist and composer. He has recorded albums since 2009, and his ninth album of his career,
Modern Lore was released in 2018. This album reached #1 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, in February, 2018, for one week. In listening to this
album, it is more of a Rock album, with Jazz inspired feels. Nevertheless, it does fit the Jazz genre; more notably Smooth Jazz.
Lage is an accomplished guitar player. You can hear his talent shine on songs such as "The Ramble" and "Look Book." Likewise his
guitar playing, his bass player, Scott Colley, is another talented musician, as his bass playing is also highlighted on these two songs. On the bass
front, Colley's bass playing is highlighted on another track, "Earth Science." Lage, Colley, and drummer/vibraphone player Kenny Wollesen rounds up
this talented trio of musicians.
Lage's album Modern Lore was reviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) - First Listen. Read the review
here. And, if you are reviewed on NPR, you
can rest assured, that you have made a name for yourself, appearing on this well-known and popular network. From that review, regarding Modern Lore:
Julian Lage is the sort of musician who makes every gesture feel both easeful and essential. A guitarist who came up in the spotlight, first as a prodigy
and then as an apprentice, he's now 30, a seasoned hand. And you could argue that he's accessing ever deeper levels of artistry with his music, forging
ahead while remaining true to himself.
Exhibit A for that argument would be his expressive, smartly focused album Modern Lore — a showcase for Lage's working trio, with Scott Colley on bass and
Kenny Wollesen on drums.
This is the second such album, following Arclight in 2016. But where that studio release carried an implicit agenda — establishing Lage's foothold as a
bandleader, highlighting the catholicity of his tastes — this one feels loose and unburdened. It's the strongest album of Lage's career so far, and the
first that fully captures his trademark melding of fleet precision, open-road possibility and radiant self-assurance.
If that sounds like a distinctly American set of qualities, so be it: Lage is a distinctly American sort of artist. His musical persona draws from the
expansive jazz continuum (ragtime to bebop and beyond) as well as rustic folk music and the blues. And because this trio features him on a Fender Telecaster,
the countrified side of his playing often shines through — not only on the cowpoke saunter of "Atlantic Limited" but also on a medium-bright swinger like
Even NPR notices his guitar playing talent, referencing "Look Book." It definitely shows.
As mentioned, the album shows more than Jazz. "Atlantic Limited" has a R&B sound, as if it would be a tracked recorded on the Atlantic label,
which was the home of many R&B artists. Then there are some songs, having a Rock sound, as I notice these particular songs could be part of a soundtrack
for a western movie: "General Thunder," the nice and calming "Wordsmith," and a more soft-blues feel on "Whatever You Say, Henry."
The remaining tracks to mention, blends well with the softer sounds of Jazz, specifically that of Smooth Jazz -- "Roger The Dodger" highlights
the Smooth Jazz genre. "Splendor Riot," "Revelry" and "Pantheon" all are good soft sounding, nice, calming. Good for that special
atmosphere in the background for soothing music to enjoy by.
Modern Lore by Julian Lage is a good album for the softer side of Jazz, and recommended. No doubt, he is musically talented. He has been in
music since age 12 - A child prodigy, the subject of a 1996 short documentary film, Jules At Eight. Three years later, he was a faculty member of
the Standard Jazz Workshop at Stanford University. He is classically trained, and studied music at Sonoma State University, and the Ali Akbar College of
Music. He graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 2008. With all that, listening to Modern Lore, you are convinced in how talented he
really is. For the Jazz and Smooth Jazz fans alike, Modern Lore is an album to relax and have in the background while working. Or, like any other
Jazz album, just listen to it, and easily hear, how good Jazz music can get, with the music of Julian Lage.
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