Country : United States Label : Blue Note Genres and styles : Jazz Year : 2023

Julian Lage – The Layers

· by Michel Labrecque

I’ve already said all the good things I think about guitarist Julian Lage’s album View with a Room, released last year. It was one of my favorites of 2022, and was one of our top 100 albums of the year.

The Layers is from the same recording sessions, with drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus) and bassist Jorge Roeder, and guitarist Bill Frisell.

And it’s just as good, even better, for my taste.

It’s an EP with 6 pieces, 25 minutes. But what a guitaristic delight!

It’s like A View with a Room, but a bit slowed down. Three of the six pieces are on acoustic guitar. There is space for every note and even for silence.

It’s always tempting for a virtuoso guitarist to multiply the notes in twists and turns until they are exhausted. Here, it seems as if each note in this quartet complements the other. It is a complex architecture in which no sound is too much. All these layers make sense. Every cymbal strike, every double bass note counts.

“Missing Voices” is probably the most experimental piece, with strummed strings and extremely high notes, dissonances. The complementarity between Lage and Frisell is exemplary.

It is clear that all three musicians are at the service of Julian Lage, and they do their job admirably. Bill Frisell, who is normally a leader, who has explored all the American musical genres, shows here generosity towards Julian Lage.

It’s like a filial relationship: Frisell is seventy-two, Julian Lage is thirty-five.

And that’s really what’s exciting: Lage still has plenty of time ahead of him to explore and amaze us.

I can’t wait to hear the rest. In the meantime, enjoy every note.

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