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CD REVIEW

Julian Lage: Modern Lore

by Jeff Tamarkin on February 02, 2018

Although he is often— correctly—described as one of the most innovative jazz guitarists today, Julian Lage isn’t pigeonholed that easily. Modern Lore, Lage’s second album with his trio (bassist Scott Colley and drummer/ percussionist/vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen), opens with “The Ramble,” four minutes that rock hard, and ends with “Pantheon,” a dirge-paced meditation that revels in its airiness and deftly filled spaces. In between, it goes here and there without a care for category. Lage has come a long way since he was first introduced to the world as a child prodigy; now 30, he’s an adventurer whose playing style is still absorbing new ideas even as he’s begun to influence others. “Roger the Dodger” is one of several groove-oriented jams that allow Lage to exploit his clean, sharp lines; his collaborators understand instinctively where he’s heading next, and are right there alongside him. The trio is augmented on several tracks by keyboardist Tyler Chester, who adds nuggets of subtle soulfulness on tunes like “General Thunder” and Revelry” without ever getting in the way of the core players. Producer Jesse Harris also steps into the contributor’s role on a few songs, adding Casio, acoustic guitar and maracas. Julian Lage is the kind of musician who adapts comfortably to any number of settings, but he’s at his most impressive on recordings like Modern Lore, when he’s quietly assertive, keeping it simple and letting the music unfold at its own pace.
Authors: Jeff Tamarkin
Artist: Julian Lage
Album: Modern Lore
Label: MACK AVENUE