Julian Lage Trio – Tribute to Jim Hall at the VJC
Valentine’s Day Concert, February 14th, 2015
Who: Julian Lage, guitar; Scott Colley, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums
What: Originals and standards with one of jazz music’s top guitar-based trios
When: Saturday, February 14th, 2015 at 8:00 PM
Where: The Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, #222, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Tickets available: online at www.vtjazz.org by phone 802 254 9088, in person at In The Moment, Main St., Brattleboro, VT.
The Vermont Jazz Center will present the Julian Lage Trio at the Vermont Jazz Center on February 14th, 2015. Lage, at age 27 is one of the busiest guitarists on the jazz-infused scene today. He has released six albums as a leader and has played and recorded with many of today’s most significant jazz musicians including vibraphone legend Gary Burton whose band he played in from age 12 to 17. He’ll be bringing with him bassist and drummer Scott Colley and Kenny Wollesen. When asked about choosing this venerable team, for his own trio, Lage stated “I first met Scott and Kenny when I heard them play in Jim Hall’s trio, I was eleven years old. Even then, I thought to myself – those are the guys I really want to play with! Now that we’re all on the east coast, I called them up and it worked out. But the most important reason I chose Scott and Kenny is that they’re both ridiculous.”
Lage hangs with a group of bright, young musicians in their late 20s and early 30s who have a contagious, upbeat attitude and are capable of awe-inspiring, creative, genre-smashing accomplishments. He joins musicians like Gretchen Parlato, Taylor Eigsti, Dayna Stephens and others, who play amongst themselves and ride the coattails of inspiring mentors. In Lage’s case those mentors have included Fred Hersch, Jim Hall and Gary Burton.
But Lage’s influences also dip into folk, bluegrass and Indie rock. It was bluegrass mandolin maestro, David Grisman who took 12 year-old Lage under his wing and recorded Dawg Duos in 1999. Lage has also apprenticed with legendary fiddler, Mark O’Connor, playing the part of gypsy jazz’s Django to O’Connor’s Grappelli. Acoustic music permeates Lage’s music even when he’s playing a Fender Telecaster; his sound is so deeply rooted in the folk tradition that no matter what he plays, it sounds earthy and unprocessed. Lage’s signature instrument is an archtop acoustic and this he plays with playful recklessness. His perfectly constructed improvisations seem to emanate from a constant source of energy: naturally, unfettered and without thought.
Styles easily blend in Lage’s big mind – it’s all music. His recordings reflect that casual diversity while maintaining a playful dedication to exceptional musicality. Lage’s first efforts as a leader (Sounding Point, Gladwell) combine cello and saxophone along with the pulsating grooves of Lage’s guitar locked in with Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder and Colombian percussionist Tupac Mantilla. This tightly knit ensemble played programmatic, collectively arranged, percussively driven vignettes. Lage and famed bluegrass guitarist, Chris Eldridge of the Punch brothers have toured and recorded an album that’s emerged as a favorite with critics and listeners alike. His 5 star (Downbeat) duo recording with piano master, Fred Hersch is a combination of jazz standards and originals that according to All Jazz, represents “the continuity of music from Bach to bop to modernity, and in this respect represents something of a measuring rod for the development of jazz forms.” Each of Lage’s new projects is exciting and fresh, unified by his unique character, high standards and gorgeous sound quality.
So what will we be hearing at the Vermont Jazz Center on February 14th when Lage combines forces with greats Colley and Wollesen? According to Lage’s website, this new trio: “is an improvising ensemble featuring electric guitar (telecaster) acoustic bass, and drums. Playing original music as well as standards of the American jazz and folk traditions, the Julian Lage Trio draws influence from modern jazz guitar trio of Jim Hall as well as operating as sonic laboratory for exploring the integration of acoustic and electric instruments in an improvising context.” In a conversation with Lage, he mentioned that the three will dip into material from a soon-to-be-released solo guitar recording, visit some originals recorded with former bands, and play a few jazz standards.
It is significant that this band is a living tribute to Jim Hall. As mentioned earlier, Hall led a trio with Colley and Wollesen and was a mentor to Lage. Hall, was one of the greatest jazz guitarists to walk the planet: his duo recordings with Bill Evans and the piano-less quartet with Sonny Rollins are included in most lists of best-ever jazz recordings. Hall was both a trailblazer (as demonstrated through the open-ended work with Jimmy Giuffre Three) and a straight-ahead mainstream jazz guy who could play blistering solos and swing hard. He was a very accessible man who easily joined forces with other guitarists, always eager to explore the potential of the guitar duo. The Jazz Center’s Attila Zoller and Jim Hall were great friends who concertized together often. Jim Hall recorded duos with guitarists Zoller, Jimmy Raney, Pat Metheny, Bill Frissell and others. All of his recordings demonstrate Hall’s generous spirit as well as his penchant for musical risk-taking.
Trusting in one’s sidemen is the essence of Jim Hall’s legacy that the Julian Lage Trio will use as their jumping off point. The music will be exploratory, open and oftentimes hard-swinging, propelled by an out-of-the-box, let’s improvise by using a whatever-comes-to-us approach. Jim Hall had an open attitude and a proven formula: he recognized the true mastery of his sideman and was willing to take chances by going out on a limb with them, in public and even on record. His music was unpredictable and always fresh; it used the structure and melody of a standard as a jumping off point but was not hindered by the necessity of always adhering to the form. This group-based improvisation clearly influenced Lage who will join forces with Hall’s former band-mates to offer us a feast of creatively distilled standards mixed with soundscapes overlaid by glorious melodies.
Double bassist Scott Colley is originally from the Los Angeles area where he studied with jazz legend Charlie Haden. As a young man he toured the U.S. and Europe with Carmen McRae, Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Jordan. From 1990 to 1995 Colley worked with Jim Hall, John Scofield, Joe Henderson and Art Farmer. From ’96 to ’98 he toured with groups led by Joe Lovano and Jim Hall, Toots Thielemans, Bobby Hutcherson and Bob Berg and Andrew Hill’s “Another Point of Departure” sextet. From 2000-2004 Colley toured the world as a member of Herbie Hancock’s working trio and quartet. Hancock’s trio has also performed in concert engagements with symphonic orchestras. During that time he also toured with the Andrew Hill trio and sextet, and the Chris Potter Quartet. From 2005-2007: he was the bassist in “Directions in Music”, a collaboration with Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove and Terri Lyne Carrington; he also performed in concerts with Pat Metheny. Now Colley focuses more on recording projects and touring and writing for his own projects. Recent recordings include releases by Chris Potter, Luciana Souza, Abbey Lincoln, Adam Rogers, Donny McCaslin, Kenny Werner; and his own release, Architect of the Silent Moment. He now is found touring with his quartet and trio in the US, Europe and South America. His recent schedule includes tours with Edward Simon and Brian Blade, Chris Potter’s Underground, The Antonio Sanchez Quartet, Magic Circle(a trio with Dave Douglas and Mark Feldman), The David Binney Quartet and The Kenny Werner Quintet.
Drummer Kenny Wollesen has appeared on over 500 recordings. He’s been heard with singers Norah Jones (Come Away with Me) and Natalie Merchant, Madeline Peyroux, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Waits, Kate McGarry, Anais Mitchell, Rufus Wainwright and many others. Wollesen is John Zorn’s go-to drummer for his myriad projects, plus it seems as if every downtown artist wants Wollesen’s sound on their record: David Byrne, Crash Test Dummies, Kamikaze Ground Crew, Myra Melford, Leni Stern, Steve Cardenas, Lan Xang, Sean Lennon, Rebecca Martin, Drew Gress, Greg Cohen, Frank Carlberg, Borah Bergman, Bill Frisell, David Binny, Wayne Krantz, Ellery Eskelin, Once Blue, the Club Foot Orchestra, Junk Genius, Kirk Knufke, Jenny Scheinman, Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, John Scofield. Wollesen is a founding member of the New Klezmer Trio and a regular member of Sexmob.
The Julian Lage Trio will perform at the VJC on Saturday, February 14th at 8:00 PM. This concert is made possible due to generous financial support from Mark Anagnostopulos and Janet Zinter. The VJC is grateful for ongoing support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hospitality for our artists is provided by the Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW and WFCR.
Julian Lage is one of the top guitarists on the scene today. His fusion of jazz, folk and bluegrass and association with legendary artists in all three idioms is drawing attention from all sides. His precocious ascendency is due to his natural talent and hard work, combined with a great attitude and the highest level of musicianship. Now hear him in the context of his own trio, performing open-ending interpretations of jazz standards and captivating originals.
Tickets for the Julian Lage Trio at the VJC, February 14th are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or online at www.vtjazz.org. Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1.
Contact: Eugene Uman at email@example.com or 802 258 8822