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New JGT Review: Julian Lage, “View With A Room”

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JGT guest contributor Paul Beard reviews Julian Lage’s 2022 release, “View With A Room”.

Guitar virtuoso Julian Lage’s latest disc, “View With A Room”, brings a bit of a change in style for the 34-year-old Californian. Don’t worry, the skill and panache that he is rightly renowned for are still present but on this second outing with Bluenote, there’s a more modern, comprehensive sound, yet also deliberate references to the rock n roll era sound too. Lage himself admits that “In so many ways, I’ve wanted to make this record for years. It comes from a line of musical inquiry: can you have lush orchestration combined with an organic sense of improvisation and the agility of a small ensemble?”

The answer to this rhetoric is provided by collaborations once more with bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King who are very much attuned to the group’s leader. Add iconic guitarist Bill Frisell to the mix and horizons can then be truly expanded; his ability to increase the orchestrational possibilities and add ‘voices’ to any ensemble is evident here. With production by Lage’s wife Margaret Glaspy, a singer-songwriter in her own right, who collaborated with engineer Mark Goodell at Brooklyn’s Bridge Studios, there is a real sense of cohesion and musical integrity.

Julian Lage’s 2022 release, “View With A Room”

The opening track, Tributary, just like a small river heading into the main body of water, wends its way gently in through your ears, warm guitar chords bringing tranquility to the muddy banks of your mind and percussion sounds only dipping in occasionally – the perfect way into an album ten tracks and 43 minutes long. 

Track two, Word For Word, also released as a single, brings an increase in pace and immediately make the toes tap and head nod appreciatively. There’s a delightful bounce in this song that has Jim Hall inspirations running throughout. With post-production by Lage’s close friend Armand Hirsch, the flow throughout this album is a joy to behold and with Auditorium this is prominent, the overall undercurrent interspersed with country sounds and contemporary drumming from the sticks of Dave King.

Chavez fills the sixth slot and for me, is a stand-out song. The driving drum beat and strong guitar chords reminding me of eighties rock and almost punk, showing the eclectic mix of sounds this disc brings… just blow the cobwebs off your air guitar and join in!

Temple Steps is calmer and brings in Bill Frisell with his baritone guitar, and I’m sure I can hear spoons chatting in the background at times too – wonderful. 

After two more groove-laden tracks you hope the album isn’t going to come to an end but the warm, mature, almost cozy Fairbanks rounds out this record perfectly. When musicians of this stature combine and the composer’s intentions and desires are fully understood by all involved, you get a great listening experience. “View With A Room” is definitely that and deserves to be recognized as one of the standout albums of 2022.

Personnel

Julian Lage: electric guitar; Bill Frisell: electric guitar, baritone guitar; Jorge Roeder: double bass; Dave King: drums.

Track Listing

Tributary; Word For Word; Auditorium; Heart Is A Drum; Echo; Chavez; Temple Steps; Castle Park; Let Every Room Sing; Fairbanks.


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