GUITAR MASTER JULIAN LAGE SPANS A RANGE OF SURPRISING COVERS WITH TRIO IN ‘LOVE HURTS’
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GUITAR MASTER JULIAN LAGE SPANS A RANGE OF SURPRISING COVERS WITH TRIO IN ‘LOVE HURTS’

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Grammy-nominated guitarist Julian Lage, only 31, has already developed a reputation as one of the world’s best. On Love Hurts Lage does his freewheeling interpretations of pieces written by a range of artists and songwriters in different genres, reflecting his never-ending musical appetite. Lage recording and self-produced the album at Wilco’s studio in Chicago’s Irving Park. This marks his third Mack Avenue LP recorded with a trio, and his first to feature bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus).

The New York-based Lage has already built a strong resume as a sideman (Gary Burton and John Zorn), duo partner (with Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge and Fred Hersch, among others), and as soloist and bandleader. This is his third album in a trio format but the first with this rhythm section. “For me, this recording completes a trilogy of approaches to the trio,” says Lage. “They’re all similar but illuminate different fascinations.”

The ten tunes covered span artists from Roy Orbison (“Crying”) to Ornette Coleman (“Tomorrow Is the Question”) to Peter Ivers (“in Heaven”) to Keith Jarett and Jimmy Giuffre ((“Trudgin’”). The title track, of course, was made famous by the Everly Brothers and later by Gram Parsons. There’s even one from the Great American Songbook ((“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”). All considered Lage courses through pre-bebop, free jazz, country swing, and rock n’ roll. “The covers on this record are like when you move into a new apartment, the last thing you do is hang your pictures on the wall,” Lage says. “Those pictures define your aesthetic in a way. So the tunes we chose kind of define the aesthetic I love but hadn’t put on a record yet.”

The focus tracks belong to Keith Jarrett. Lage does “Encore (A)” and an epic version of “The Windup.” Using Jarrett as a centerpiece, Lage’s goal was to draw connections between Jarrett’s music and al the tributaries that go away or lead to it. Then he wanted to mix it with early rock n’ roll, which at the time was also new, refreshing and effusive. Essentially, he was looking at it in terms of couplets, casually saying we’re doing “Love Hurts” and “The Windup” in the same breath, building the narrative in that way.

The sessions were inspired by a series of live date where Lage and bassist Jorge Roeder were joined by drummer Dave King. The three continued to talk throughout 2018, building a gigantic list of tunes they may want to play. When the got to The Loft (Wilco’s studio), Lage even put down his trademark Telecaster and played one of Jeff Tweedy’s vintage Gretch Duo Jets. The album was done in mostly first takes, taking only a day and a half to complete.

Although with his inspired interpretations and arrangements, Lage offers two originals, “In Circles” and “Lullaby”. He sees them as interstitial vignettes, meant to glue the rest of this American music together, as he aimed to build a fluid continuum from improvised music to actual songs. Throughout Lage’s sense of melody and his improvisational flair are on display, but one of the most striking aspects of the recording is his pristine guitar tone and the fluidity of his playing. His improvisational technique is free but purposeful too. He ever loses sight of where he’s headed, linking these different eras of American music rather magically and seamlessly.

Lage says, “I’ve been so lucky to be a part of a lot of music making that’s kind of different from one another, whether it’s with acoustic guitar or what I do with Nels Cline or John Zorn or Charles Lloyd, and now with my band. I want to not distill but maybe focus those efforts, so you could hear one song by us and say, wow, there’s all these things going on. It’s living in harmony with itself. That’s the dream.”

This is another strong addition to Lage’s catalog and as he says, completes a trilogy of trio works. If you haven’t yet heard Lage, this is as good an introduction to one of today’s best guitarists as any.


Read the full piece from: Glide Magazine

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