Those dreamy eyes, those dancing fingers, that heaven-scent music… Must be Julian Lage time. Recently featured in Vanity Fair as a part of the “Millennials… Shaking Up The Jazz World,” one of the hardest-working jazz-fusion guitarists is headed out for a major spring tour — and you’re invited.
His 2016 Spring Trio Tour kicks off in Cambridge, MA’s Club Passim on March 6 and winds down at Brooklyn’s the Hall at MP May 11.
Lage, 27, is forever gigging all over the world with various artists, trying to sequence fresher consequences to that collaborative effect. He’s effectively effected differences onstage with multi-styled artists everywhere, not just those sequestered in primetime cities. They include singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane (Dads Across America), and guitarists Nels Cline (This Song, Room) and Punch Brothers’ Chris Eldridge (Avalon, Close To Picture).
He also released his first solo album on February 3rd early in the year, receiving plenty of the usual applause from both critics and his adoring public. Towards the end of a January 29, 2015 interview with Guitar World’s Ethan Varian, Lage talked about his propensity to play with other guitarists, which is kind of out of the norm, versus alone on that stage.
“Playing in a duo is kind of the dream for me. Playing with Nels is the ultimate,” Lage explained. “Pretty much every duo I’ve been a part of is because I like the person and they happen to play music and then we happen to play together. It hasn’t been deliberate like, ‘The sound of two guitars is what I’m looking for.’ Instead it’s just been because I love Nels or whomever else I’m playing with. We just both happen to play guitar. Solo playing is about learning how to be stronger in different ways.
“A lot of my musical life has been about responding and interacting, and with solo guitar I still have to do that but with myself. I have to be very resourceful when it’s just me and enjoy even the little stuff that I play. It can’t all be explosive, fast stuff; I need more mundane, beautiful things. It’s sort of a lesson in self-compassion, because if you start to hate what you’re playing it can be a very long night. And then when I come back to a duo, it’s like I’ve come back to a big band. I feel like the sound just quintupled! That all makes it pretty fun, they go well together.”
New York Times critic Nate Chinen called Lage’s propensity to work a lot with other musicians a kind of “a disarming spirit of generosity in the musicianship … and a keener sense of judicious withholding. A guitarist with roots tangled up in jazz, folk, classical and country music, he has spent most of his life bathed in a bright, expectant light.”
In Chinen’s July 18, 2014 feature, “A Former Prodigy Continues to Break Ground in Collaborations,” the writer breaks news about Lage’s new trio with bassist Scott Colley (Jim Hall Trio; Toots Thielemans) and drummer Kenny Wollesen (Bill Frisell). The Julian Lage Trio broke ground then and there at New York’s Jazz Standard on a random Wednesday.
However, it’s hardly Lage’s first rodeo. He’s been known to mix it up rather well in festivals and gigs past with trios. How about that 2012 Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in Big Fork, MT with percussionist Tupac Mantilla and bassist Jorge Roeder?
Watch Lage and his new trio tweak the standards and split the fusions this spring near you.