If you read and watched my last post “The Young Virtuosos of Modern Folk” you may have already had a burning urge to do more research on Julian Lage, the folk jazz prodigy who racked up a grammy nomination with his debut album, Sounding Point.
If not, well… you should get on that.
The modern jazz scene is something which is on fire at the moment. Unfortunately, its a highly contained fire burning a scorching blue in NYC and practically no where else; not to mention it may be hot but not very bright. Julian Lage, however, is not only bringing the music in a new direction but the aesthetic as well. He isn’t simply a case of the mega virtuoso prodigy. He has his own style, sound, and feel. While the young lions of todays jazz scene are busy tearing up NYC’s jam sessions and putting out albums of hyper modern intellectualism, Julian has brought it back home with a unique folk music aesthetic that embraces the complete acoustic sound of early jazz while making it totally personal. He incorporates sax and upright bass as well as south american percussion and cello. There are elements of classical, bluegrass, and modern jazz harmony/improvisation. The absolute refreshing nature of Julian’s music comes from his relaxed attitude about not having to sound like any one thing. You just get the feeling that you are listening to some good music; no stretching of expectations based on genre. His virtuosity is at such a high level that it doesn’t simply stop with outward shows of fast lines, but is mostly displayed in his very mature use of dynamics and other subtleties. Through his amazing musicality, compositions, and calm natured sound he attracts an audience that isn’t just made up of young college students; there is really something for everybody.
Here is a clip from a documentary about him at a very young age. It provides an interesting look at his abilities at the age of just 8 years old.