Lage Lund, Foolhardy

by  Jeff Becker

Guitarist Lage Lund returns to the quartet format with his third leader release for Criss Cross entitled, Foolhardy.  Lund is joined by Aaron Parks on piano, Ben Street on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Lund is the 2005 Thelonious Monk Guitar Competition winner, he is “all music and all soul,” according to Russell Malone, one of the judges who awarded Lund top prize in the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.  Born and raised in Skien, Norway, Lund relocated to Boston after high school and attended Berklee College of Music. In 2002, he moved to New York and soon became the first electric guitarist ever to enroll at the Juilliard School of Music. In the years since his Monk Competition victory, he has become a sought-after sideman with the David Sanchez Quartet, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Seamus Blake Quintet, the Mingus Orchestra and many more. He has been fortunate enough to work with elder statesmen and peers alike: Ron Carter, Mulgrew Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Carmen Lundy, FLY, Marcus Strickland, Jaleel Shaw, Will Vinson, Aaron Parks, Kendrick Scott, Jimmy Greene and Ingrid Jensen, among others.

Foolhardy is comprised of six Lund originals with two selections penned by Ron Carter and David Rose and one standard.  “Tokyo” starts the disc with ambient guitar sounds and swells followed by a hard hitting medium-up tempo melody with a 7/8 pulse and well placed band accents. Lund’s guitar sound is different on this release compared to his past recording; his sound is more modern with a “darker” sound that is still warm and woody, but with a little less high end frequency and a wider midrange.

“That It, Then?” finds Lund and Aaron Parks negotiating an enjoyable mid-tempo swing melody in unison, Parks’ playing through-out the disc is very enjoyable; displaying a nice touch and command of tonal color.  The well-oiled rhythm section of Street and Stewart keep things centered and lively.  Lund’s solo is fluent and builds upon clear melodic motifs with both melodic development and rhythmic displacement and developments.

“Foolhardy” starts with a solo guitar intro that displays Lunds beautiful chordal work with big lush voicings and inner moving parts.  The band enters to help unfold the melody, a long flowing line that will take more than one listen to sing-a-long to, but it is beautiful all the same.  Stewart’s brush work is excellent on this selection and pushes great solos from Parks and Lund.
The CD continues the post-bop evolution with Lund and Kurt Rosenwinkel being of like minds; not following the same sonic pathways as Bill Frisell, Ben Monder or David Fiuczynski, but keeping the evolutionary flame burning all the same.  Foolhardy is a splendid listen, Lage has a unique touch and his solos and chord choices are very musical. On this album, Lund does not go far outside of the box just to show off his technique via dissonance, excessive flurries of notes and oddities. Everything is about unfolding a musical journey, even if it is adventurous and bold.