Jazz guys: Why do I like Julian Lage?

Canadiense. El

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 21, 2008
Posts
239
Location
Ontario
If you like it, it's good. Lots there for guitar (Tele!) fans.

I acknowledge that he's a great player, but I can't get into him. I met him and, as well as in interviews, he came across with arrogance, or something, that put me off. So at the end of the day, I don't have to listen, and he still has all his fans.
 

muscmp

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jul 1, 2008
Posts
2,177
Location
california
i saw julian and bill frisell at ucla's royce hall. great show.
i believe he is one of the most avant garde players today. really not stuck in any genre as he has played rock, jazz, and country. and, that's why he is different. he's also playing loud and soft, fast and slow.
play music!
 

ChicknPickn

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2007
Posts
4,479
Location
Ole Virginny
what? his feel and amount of control (dynamics, articulation, gestures, etc.) are astonishing. there's all kinds of thoughtful stuff like toru takemitsu and non-guitaristic things in his playing as well. he's 100% not some mindless jazz shredder.

his main problem is that most of his material is pretty boring and safe. he has all this ability but aside from his etudes or stuff with nels, he just writes/wastes it on the same kind of sleepy "NPR jazz" over and over.

i'd like to see more stuff like this out of him. IMO it's a lot more interesting application of his talents/approach:




Sweetness.
 

W.L.Weller

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
May 20, 2014
Posts
1,488
Location
Queens
I‘m really not trying to get into a big thing over this…but these two videos are prime examples of exactly what I’m referring to…chops for days but not much of a message here beyond “hey…look what I can do”.

Very cold and sterile…no emotion…it makes me wonder if he’s ever been in love, or had his heart broken, or watched a sunrise or a sunset…has he ever been down and out…not knowing where the next meal is coming from?

I’m being a little disingenuous because it’s not like he has to pass a test,etc. I just want to see what he’s made of. :)
"cold and sterile" to you. I realize you posted this a month ago, and I'm absolutely not looking for a big thing either. Lage is a better player than I'll ever be, but I've never bought a record of his or seen him live; I don't really have a horse in the race.

Rather, I'm looking for recommendations of guitar performances that, to you, convey the message of being in love, or having one's heart broken, or watching a sunrise or sunset, or being hungry. Because I'm always looking for transcendental music I haven't heard before.
 

takauya

Tele-Meister
Joined
Apr 2, 2011
Posts
411
Location
Forest
Many years ago, he was considered to be the next big thing after the generation of Kurt Rosenwinkel, and now he's a sell-out. Disappointed.
 

trandy9850

Tele-Meister
Ad Free Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Posts
494
Location
Camdenton, MO.
"cold and sterile" to you. I realize you posted this a month ago, and I'm absolutely not looking for a big thing either. Lage is a better player than I'll ever be, but I've never bought a record of his or seen him live; I don't really have a horse in the race.

Rather, I'm looking for recommendations of guitar performances that, to you, convey the message of being in love, or having one's heart broken, or watching a sunrise or sunset, or being hungry. Because I'm always looking for transcendental music I haven't heard before.
Try Lenny Breau’s “Five O’Clock Bells” or Kenny Burrell’s “Moon and Sand”, or Jim Hall’s “Concierto”.
 

Jazzcaster21

Tele-Holic
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Posts
590
Age
48
Location
North Carolina
aside from his mentorship from jim hall . . .

Lage can, but doesn't really play jazz. he plays pop that occasionally goes 'out.' in that sense, he's closer to jerry garcia and trey anastasio than you might think . . .
I would disagree a lot with that statement. Lage plays jazz and really anything he wants. To me he's like Jim Hall/Bill Frisell with some more chops (a lot more).
His harmonic knowledge is far superior to Garcia (and I love the Dead). Jerry was great but (and let's be honest here) Lage is on a different level from him (as his Trey). Plus AFAIK, he doesn't have nor has he has had a problem with drugs (and that factor played into how both Garcia and Anastasio's playing took a turn for the worst at various points).

It's really apples to oranges.

Lage and Trey may have some similarities as far as how much theory they know but again, I would say that Lage is a little bit more versed in harmonic knowledge and how it applies to playing changes. And, if you haven't seen his solo guitar arrangements of some of the jazz standards that he has done (and they are on YouTube) then you owe it to yourself to do so. Neither Jerry nor Trey (and I am pretty confident when I make this comment) would think to A: do something like that and B: do it as well as Lage does.

I mean, listen to this (and on a Les Paul!):
 

monkeybanana

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Aug 6, 2016
Posts
1,425
Location
mmhmm
Julian Lage can technically play very well…but he reminds me of a guy who holed up and practiced scales and arpeggios for years…he can play very fluidly….but the “feel” factor, for me, is zero.

I can appreciate his technical ability…but it just doesn’t move me at all.

However…that Jack McDuff/George Benson clip posted above…kills!

And Grant Green is way overlooked…

Actually his background is a little more interesting than that. Even if you don't like his music you should check out Jules at Eight (I think it's even filmed in super 8!)


Quite a few legendary musicians recognized his prodigiousness early on but his parents tried to have him grow up in a "regular" upbringing out of the limelight. Ultimately his teacher's told his parents he needed something else the school couldn't offer. Santana wanted Jules to come on stage as a kid but his parents made him wait a year. David Grisman used to send him home with vintage guitars. Gary Burton took him to gigs at farmer's markets and cruise shows so he would get comfortable playing in front of people. Jim Hall would cold call him and would ask him what key a jazz standard was originally in. He wound up at Berklee and was going to leave (I think he was already too advanced) but they asked him to stay and let him make his own program. Thank goodness he didn't go into score composing as he originally planned and became a full fledged musician. Some great players are great players but can't teach. Julian is obviously an awesome player but he's also really into music education, you can find some great stuff on YT. Pretty rare thing we get to experience IMO. Did I mention I am a fan?



 
Last edited:

ruger9

Poster Extraordinaire
Ad Free Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Posts
7,325
Location
Hackettstown, NJ

This, in a nutshell. Added to that, he's original. It's not the same old, standards, tone-turned-down, lounge jazz or the Yngwie Malmsteen bebop (a thousand notes). He's interesting, different, original. It took me a little while to "get it", but when I did, I DID.

For me, who loves Jim Campilongo, El Twanguero, Duke Levine, Guthrie Trapp, and other guitar instrumentalists who aren't "strictly jazz", Lage bridges the gap between them and "normal jazz". Actually, I think one of jazz's problems has been that it limits itself, it seems, since so much of it does seem to be very much the same... the "strictly" part of my description above. Lage goes beyond that.

When I saw him play "jazz" (lol) on the bridge pickup of his Collings into a JHS Morning Glory and Magic Amps Deluxe, I "got it". He's not more of the same. He explores- which is one of the cornerstones of jazz.

Note the joy:

 
Last edited:

ruger9

Poster Extraordinaire
Ad Free Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Posts
7,325
Location
Hackettstown, NJ
I tried to "get" Bill Frisell years before I discovered Lage. I can do Frisell in only small doses, even a whole album is a bit much for me (this I love his "SOLOS" DVD, which I own). I prefer Frisell when playing for others, like Norah Jones at al
 

davidchagrin

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Posts
1,162
Age
40
Location
Hazel Park, MI
Julian Lage has been my favorite songwriter/player for a few years now. His phrasing and melodic choices really pull me in. I've learned so much from his playing that has greatly improved my own. He's a master improviser. I can understand how his music might not be for everyone, but no one does it better.
P.S. whoever said that Lage sounds arrogant must not be paying attention. To me, he comes across as the most humble dude.
P.P.S. Jorge Roeder and Dave King, who round out Julian's trio, are top notch as well.
 

fushifushi

TDPRI Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2021
Posts
62
Age
38
Location
Minnesota
I agree with the praise and some of the critiques of Lage that have been voiced here. Here are some thoughts.

- I saw his trio live a week and a half ago at the start of their "View with a Room" tour. He played his Tele for the first couple songs but it had grounding issues that caused loud hum, so he switched to his Collings for the rest of the night. The show was staggering, astonishing, overwhelming. I sat 7 feet in front of Lage. I could have played King's cymbal with my right hand. When Lage, Roeder, and King get cooking it peels paint off the walls, and I broke down weeping at one point because I was experiencing sensory/beauty overload. I wasn't weeping because Lage was "expressing emotions" through his guitar playing. I was weeping because of the ecstasy of the moment these three musicians were creating, something more transcendent and mysterious than any emotion I could name.

- When I think of Lage, I think of invention and musicality. He has that special quality where if you give him a guitar and say "PLAY" he'll invent something beautiful on the spot. There's also a depth and sensitivity to his musical world that speaks to me but maybe not to others.

- In my mind, Lage is similar to Eric Dolphy. They're both technical wizards on their instruments and have complete command of music theory, but they also have a sense of joy, fun, and abstraction. Lage can be really poppy and almost adult contemporary at times (which is one of my critiques of his songwriting), yet he also gets very free and exploratory. For me, to listen to Lage is to follow his invention from one moment to the next with wide eyes.





- Other guitarists I'd suggest for those who respond to Lage's combination of chops, adventurousness, and abstraction are John McLaughlin (the early stuff), James "Blood" Ulmer, and Joe Morris.





 
Last edited:




Top