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