Greetings readers. A somewhat frigid night here in the DC Metro area. I hope those in similar weather conditions are keeping warm.
The other day I perused this category and took a listen to Julian Lage. I had never heard of this nominee until this the nominees list came out, and was pleasantly surprised to find him as a guitarist. Being a child prodigy, musically, is nothing new at all, but being prodigious in a number of different genres and combining them into one style is no so commonplace. Receiving accolades from various music luminaries at such a young age is also uncommon. Being a guitarist, I’m naturally biased to him as a nominee (this goes for Mike Stern as well). What I found myself thinking about his style of music was…it didn’t quite match what I thought a contemporary jazz album should sound like. Lage’s style, to me, has somewhat heavy folk influences across the board and my experience with contemporary jazz, listening to it for 30+ years, doesn’t quite jive what that (I lend the same mindset to Mike Stern’s “Big Neighborhood” with the rock influences, as well). As I listened to the tracks from his most excellent release, Soundpoint, I became increasingly impressed by each song, particularly his rendition of Miles Davis’ “All Blues”. Equally impressive is the height of musical stature that he’s grown into, by not only releasing a Grammy nominated album, but already (by age 21) being a sideman to jazz great Gary Burton. Here’s Julian discussing Soundpoint, released on Emarcy Records:
To me, Soundpoint is a collection of very well done, intricate arrangements and performances that encompasses the mastery of his instrument. I find it interesting that the selections themselves find themselves in this category, but I enjoy them nonetheless. I wonder if he will, in the future, perform his arrangements with a larger electric ensemble or continue bring his compositions in a group such as this. In any event, it will be a welcome addition to my collection
Julian Lage Online