Lage Lund (Terrible Animals)

lagelundLage Lund (born 12 December 1978) is a Norwegian jazz guitarist

After discarding his dream of becoming a professional skateboarder, Lund turned his attention to music and picked up the guitar at the age of 13. He founded a trio and played in local clubs. On a scholarship he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he performed at Wally’s Cafe. In 2002 a grant from the Fulbright foundation gave him the opportunity to move to New York City. In 2003 he entered the Juilliard School scholarship jazz program and graduated in 2005. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2005.

He has performed at Smalls Jazz Club, Jazz Gallery, Blues Alley, Kennedy Center, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has worked with Seamus Blake, Ingrid Jensen, Carmen Lundy, Wynton Marsalis, Eric Revis, Ron Carter, Mulgrew Miller, and Maria Schneider.

Honors

  • 2000: Recipient of the Jimi Hendrix Award
  • 2005: Winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition

Discography

As leader or co-leader

  • 2007 : Standards
  • 2008 : Early Songs (Criss Cross)
  • 2010 : Unlikely Stories (Criss Cross)
  • 2011 : Small Club, Big City
  • 2012: Four – Live at Smalls (Criss Cross)
  • 2013 : Foolhardy (Criss Cross)
  • 2013 : OWL Trio (Losen)
  • 2015 : Arts and Letters (Losen)
  • 2015 : Idlewild (Criss Cross
  • 2016: Inspired with Rale Micic, John Abercrombie, Peter Bernstein

As sideman or guest

With Seamus Blake

  • 2007: Way Out Willy (Criss Cross)
  • 2009 : Bellwether (Criss Cross)

With Jimmy Greene

  • 2009 : Mission Statement (Criss Cross)

With Jaleel Shaw

  • 2005 : Perspective (Criss Cross)
  • 2008 : Optimism (Criss Cross)

With Steinar Nickelsen including Ari Hoenig

  • 2007 : Mise En Bouteille À New York (Calibrated)

With Jochen Rueckert

  • 2014: We Make the Rules (Criss Cross)

With David Sánchez

  • 2008 : Cultural Survival (Criss Cross)

 

2019 New CD, just released: Terrible Animals (Criss Cross Jazz) 

The cover for Terrible Animals, the latest album from New York-based guitarist Lage Lund, has a decidedly retro feel to it.

Jazz aficionados will recognize the cover’s red border and casual sketch of Lund as a nod to the look of selected Criss Cross Jazz album covers from the early 1980s, i.e., a time when Lund, who is 40 now, was still a pre-schooler in Norway, years away from picking up his first guitar.

That said, the album’s renditions of 10 original compositions by Lund are anything but old-fashioned.

They have a contemporary cast to them, and are frequently as appealingly lyrical and singable as they are intensely grooving. Furthermore, beyond the rich and vivid in-studio playing by Lund, pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Tyshawn Sorey — an improvisatory dream team if ever there was one — the guitarist after the session augmented the music with overdubbed counter-lines and textures that make his compositions more expansive, swirling, quirky and even mysterious.

Indeed, given the album’s title and the black or surreal humour I detect in the video clip above, I’m tempted to say that with his effects pedals and prepared guitar, Lund has added bleats, warbles, whooshes and assorted evocative sounds that make his music more ominous and at times disturbingly dreamy. (Is his tune Haitian Ballad really about frogs feasting on bugs?)

I would have loved Terrible Animals even without those post-session enhancements that make it so distinctive without obstructing its live-off-the-floor content. Fortner, Grenadier and Sorey make up a rhythm section that strikes me as surprising, given their playing histories and associations, yet incredibly potent and even inspired. Fortner and Sorey gush with virtuosic creativity throughout Lund’s winning material, while Grenadier heroically anchors the music and steps forward with commanding solos as needed. Throughout, Lund’s guitarwork — or rather, the album’s primary layer of guitar — glows with sinuous melodicism, delivering profundity and adventure.

The album’s opener, Hard Eights, alternates tense minor-key grinding with the release of a quasi jazz-shuffle. Aquanauts is a fantastic burbling piece with a truly eye-widening solo by Sorey that runs roughshod over its 5/4 grid. (Here’s a trio performance of the piece with bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Justin Faulkner throwing themselves into the music.)

Suppressions is a churning, incident-filled piece that is several generations removed from one of its ancestors, John Coltrane’s Impressions. Haitian Ballad is a plaintive, airy composition with a little bit of menace to it. Ray Ray is a slow, lilting piece with special gravitas. Octoberry is short and enigmatic, with a clanky sonic signature and a questing solo by Grenadier.

Brasilia is a jaunty piece with a sparkling, poised solo by Fortner that could not have been improved upon had he composed it in advance. The title track, which is short, dour and rumbling, is sandwiched between two sunnier tunes, Take It Eas and the disc-closing We Are There Yet.

In a short e-mail exchange, I asked Lund if he thought of Terrible Animals as more of a studio creation than a live-off-the-floor recording, or perhaps as some kind of hybrid. “It’s a hybrid, I suppose,” he replied, before offering an analogy that was more incisive.

“You could say that basically all my previous records were documentaries whereas this one is based on a true story,” Lund wrote.

I like the sound of that almost as much as like the sound of Terrible Animals, an album that creates its own unique truth, thanks to a formidable, free-spirited team effort and Lund’s brave imagination.

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