Julian Lage, Modern Lore

by Sylvannia Garutch

Guitarist Julian Lage started playing and performing guitar at the age of five. At a young age he already played with the greatest in the music world, including Carlos Santana, Pat Metheny, Toots Thielemans and pianist Fred Hersch. In 2016 Lage formed a trio with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollesen to explore the guitar in a trio format. The result can be heard on their album, Modern Lore. The music presented is lively, multi-styled and interactive.

On “Atlantic Limited,” Colley lays down a solid bass set to a western jazz feel, crossed with elements of rock, jazz and blues. Lage’s tele is slightly distorted, but certainly has a “twang” to the sound. Lage is great at creating layers within his playing, accompany himself as he builds his upper register lines to a full single note solo. The trio plays with dynamics as much as they do the harmony, pushing and pulling phrases, as any good jazz trio will. The result is fresh and playful.

These are three top musicians who gave themselves entirely carte blanche, which produces quite spectacular results. Take, for example, the softly rustling, coarsely-grained and visually beautiful “General Thunder” that nods slightly towards Neil Young and his Crazy Horse. Good guitar skills, of course, but you hear especially how Lage makes his companions shine. A highlight.

“Roger The Dodger” starts out with a more pronounced groove and attitude. With a nice dissonant chordal figure for the intro, the trio relaxes into a flowing six-eight pulse for the melody. Lage again finds a way to state the world of melody and accompany in a creative manner. For the solo, Lage digs in and gives us what we really want, guitar, guitar lines and guitar solos of depth and technique that speak musically. The trio conveys very nicely, both Colley and Wollesen are absolutely tuned into Lage’s musical vision and support him wherever his lines go.

Modern Lore is a study in the potential colors of the telecaster in a jazz trio setting. Lage’s playing for the most part is melodic and laidback. This is an excellent guitar trio outing for Lage, the compositions are focused and musical, all the tunes are keep short and musically to the point. Lage shows that technical wizardry and gifted musicianship does come in a less is more package and it’s called, Modern Lore.

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