World’s Fair. Julian Lage’s first solo guitar album, is so spontaneous and intimate in feel it’s as if this prodigious guitarist had just arrived in your living room, picked up his vintage Martin, and simply started to play.
“I always had a fantasy about doing a solo guitar project, “ Lage explains, “especially one that highlighted various orchestrational aspects of guitar playing and guitar techniques, drawing from the structure of the three to four minute song, pieces that did not depend as much on improvisation but on moods, or musical attitudes. When I started recording, I discovered what a rare opportunity this was for me to recalibrate my senses to one instrument and within that recalibration learn to savor the vast world of intimacy and nuance, both qualities so inherent to the guitar.”
While conceiving of and recording World’s Fair, Lage was inspired by the orchestral approach to the guitar of the great Andres Segovia and by the music of the early 20th Century, of “jazz before be-bop. He found a similarly unbound spirit in the early seventies work of singer-songwriters like Randy Newman, who managed to incorporate a sophisticated range of ideas into the concise pop-song format. He was drawn, in other words, to sounds that were both challenging and pleasing -- work, much like his own, that defies easy categorization.
As the New York Times has put it, the 26 year-old Lage is a an artist whose roots are “tangled in jazz, folk, classical and country music.” A child guitar prodigy, he was the subject of the 1997 Oscar-nominated documentary short, Jules at 8.; he made his first recording, with David Grisman, at the age of 11. His first recording as a leader, 2009’s Sounding Point, garnered a Grammy nomination as Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Up to now, collaboration has been essential to Lage’s process; he has toured and/or recorded with such artists as Gary Burton, Nels Cline, Fred Hersch, and Jim Hall, who was a major influence on the young Lage. His most recent project is Room, a live-in-the-studio exchange with experimental guitarist Cline. Earlier this year, he released Avalon, a duo recording with fellow guitarist Chris “Critter” Eldridge (of Punch Brothers) that surveyed the American Songbook with an easygoing virtuosity.
World’s Fair, co-produced by Matt Munisteri and engineered by Armand Hirsch, sets up a new sort of relationship between Lage and his audience, as about as one-on-one as a musician can get without physically being there. Says Lage, “Here are twelve songs that represent this opening into my world, a musical and personal aesthetic I haven’t yet had the opportunity to express in full on record. This music, these explorations, this overarching narrative -- taken together, they represent one of my long times dreams, to create music for one guitar, played by one person, for you.”
- Michael Hill
released February 3, 2015
Produced by Matt Munisteri and Julian Lage
Engineered and Mixed by Armand Hirsch
Assistant Engineered by Teddy Tuthill
Mastered by Dan Millice at The Engine Room
Design: Matt Pfahlert for www.thesilentp.com
Recorded June 16-17, 2014 at Sear Sound in New York City, with the exception of "Double Stops" and "Where or When" which were recorded March 19, 2014 at Echo Mountain in Asheville, NC with Assistant Engineer, Jon Ashley. Mixed at Sterling Studios in NYC.