Julian Lage, View With A Room Review
by Icrom Bigrad
Guitarist Julian Lage returns with his second album for Blue Note Records, titled View With A Room. The ten-song project was produced by Lage’s wife and musical partner, Margaret Glaspy. Joining Lage on the date are bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King. In addition, guitarist Bill Frisell is on seven of the ten songs. As with all Blue Note Records, the sound quality is excellent with recording and mixing by Mark Goodell and mastering by engineer Randy Merrill. “In so many ways, I’ve wanted to make this record for years,” says Lage. “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?”
“Tributary” is the opening selection, composed by Lage; the melody grows forth from a series of gorgeously voiced guitar chords. Falling in the country jazz meets folk jazz side of the genre marker, Lage and Frisell create an impressive tapestry of guitar sounds that are sometimes augmented with electronics. Merrill and Goodell provide sensitive support that follows the dynamics and harmonic colors with grace and flexibility.
“Auditorium” has more activity with more movement from King’s brushwork on the set. Lage’s guitar sound is bright as his single notes and chords chime with clearness and bell-like percussion. Though Lage’s solo has very active ascending and cascading figures, he manages to keep a melodic flow intact to form a building solo. Frisell stays true to his mellow guitar orchestrations. Overall, the two guitarists sound lovely together and make a complementary and stylistically aligned sound.
View With A Room is a strong sophomore release on the Blue Note Records label for Lage. The compositions are all paced and structured to show this ensemble’s strengths, which are listening to each other and giving space for the song to grow. So, can you have lush orchestration combined with improvisation in a small ensemble? Well, of course. Does View With A Room have this? Yes, the album is fascinating, and both Lage and Frisell are masters at creating harmonic colors and moods within a chordal framework. Lage is a more active soloist when playing single lines and much less melodic. If folk jazz is in your listening habits already, this will be a welcome addition. If not, it might be a good time to try a tune or two from View With A Room.