Julian Lage : Squint Review
Julian Lage is making his debut for Blue Note Records with his latest release titled Squint. The new album has eleven tracks that Lage has honed over the past few years, with his trio featuring bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King. “I felt like this was an opportunity to present new music born out of the Blue Note tradition as I’ve interpreted it,” explains Lage, who previously recorded for the label with The Nels Cline 4’s Currents, Constellations, and Charles Lloyd’s celebratory 8: Kindred Spirits. In the studio, Lage called upon two close musicians, both served as co-producers: guitarist and longtime collaborator Armand Hirsch and singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy, Lage’s partner in life as well as in music. “On one level, the combination of Margaret and Armand is just abundant support,” Lage says. “But I also have such deep respect for what they both bring to the music. They helped make sure that the essential experience was always there, that Squint never became a pursuit to make a good jazz guitar record, but to create music with a clear spiritual pulse.”
“Boo’s Blues” has a catchy figure taken through the blues form, with a couple of twists and turns. Lage’s tone is bright with ample reverb, and there is just a slight overdrive. Lage’s solo has an impressive flow between single lines and chords moved in quick succession. Roeder’s solo is melodic and short. The tune shows the trio interaction and Lage’s fluidity on the guitar.
“Familiar Flower” is set to a modern groove with Roeder and King forming a giant pad. The melody is more about fast shapes than melodic presence. Lage’s solo continues this premise, though he does repeat motifs frequently, the shape of his lines and play of angles seem to be the focus. Again, his technique is impressive, though the guitar is very bright.
Squint is an impressive debut of Lage on the Blue Note Records label. His choice of material is in line with the label’s current flow of jazz stylings, and the trio is a well-oiled unit. The trio has a tight relationship, and the original melodies and song forms add to their strengths. The improvisations by Lage are virtuosic, and his ideas always guide the trio forward. At times, Lage’s improvisations are a little crowded with material, as if he has so many musical ideas to testify, he is hard-pressed to fit them all in. He leaves it up to you to decide if this is a titular gift.
June 11, 2021
Blue Note Records