John Wheatcroft in­tro­duces a bril­liant new jazz gui­tarist, the Nor­we­gian ge­nius Lage Lund.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

This New York based Nor­we­gian is a mon­ster gui­tarist. Metheny adores him, Kurt Rosen­winkel thinks his play­ing is ‘scary’, and once you’ve heard him play I’m sure you’ll be agree. Lage be­gan to make waves at the turn of this cen­tury, af­ter mov­ing to Amer­ica to re­ceive schol­ar­ships at both Berklee and Juil­liard. In 2005 he won the The­olo­nius Monk In­ter­na­tional Jazz Gui­tarist award and from then he has carved a re­mark­able ca­reer as both band-leader and in-de­mand side­man, with an ever-grow­ing port­fo­lio of al­bum re­leases to his name.

Lund’s play­ing is both beau­ti­ful and com­plex. He balances a cere­bral ap­proach to mu­sic with a heart­felt emo­tional in­ten­sity and a lyri­cal and ex­pres­sive qual­ity to his sound. There’s an un­der­ly­ing in­tel­li­gence and in­tri­cacy to ev­ery­thing he plays but it never sounds me­chan­i­cal or over in­tel­lec­tu­alised. His tone is warm and clear and his rhyth­mic sense is propul­sive and de­fined. While his so­los are breath­tak­ing, he’s also a fan­tas­tic ac­com­pa­nist, where he com­bines a sen­si­tive ear with an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of chord voic­ings, voice lead­ing and har­mony. I was for­tu­nate to at­tend a mas­ter­class that Lage gave in Lon­don where, among other things, he talked about the power of fo­cus­ing on just one area of your play­ing and en­sur­ing that you re­visit this topic on a daily ba­sis. He re­ally is con­cerned with qual­ity over quan­tity. “If I take these four notes, what are all the in­ver­sions? What is ev­ery pos­si­ble way I could play this or use this?” In this at­ten­tion to de­tail one can sense the end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties and the in­fi­nite po­ten­tial of any idea in his lines, his use of har­mony, his ma­nip­u­la­tion of time and ev­ery other facet of his mu­sic.

There are six ex­am­ples and one chord­based ex­er­cise for you to learn to­day. While these lines are chal­leng­ing and will take sig­nif­i­cant ef­fort to get up to speed, the beauty of Lage’s play­ing is that the melodic in­tent is so se­cure and in­tel­li­gent, that these ex­am­ples would work at much slower tem­pos. You can also break down any ex­am­ple into smaller pieces and fol­low Lage’s lead by look­ing at just one con­cept over an ex­tended pe­riod. You

Ab could take, say, the ma­jor bro­ken chord from Ex1-bar 5, and change the notes to move this idea into other har­monic sit­u­a­tions. Ul­ti­mately, the aim is to in­sert these ideas into the har­mony of any tune that you know. Rather than play licks, this mi­cro man­age­ment of ideas in real time is what much of jazz im­pro­vi­sa­tion is about, rather than the de­liv­ery of pre­med­i­tated phrases in some kind of ran­dom or­der. Be patient and al­low your skills to de­velop over time and, more im­por­tantly, en­joy the process.

NEXT MONTH John gets into the style of a fu­sion leg­end, the one and only Mike Stern

I got into jazz very grad­u­ally. I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand it but I was drawn to it

The ex­tra­or­di­nary young Nor­we­gian jazzer, Lage Lund

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