Jazz guitarist Julian Lage is somewhat of a child prodigy -- playing his instrument at the age of five and performing in public a year later. Shortly thereafter, Lage began playing with such renowned artists as Carlos Santana (when he was only eight years old!), Pat Metheny, Kenny Werner, Toots Thielemans, Martin Taylor, and David Grisman, among others, resulting in Lage being the subject of the 1997 Academy Award-nominated documentary film Jules at Eight. In addition to performing, Lage has recorded as a duo with Grisman (the 1999 release Dawg Duos), and contributed a fine cover of "In a Sentimental Mood" with Martin Taylor and David Grisman, to the 2000 compilation Acoustic Disc: 100% Handmade Music, Vol. 5. Lage has also appeared at numerous jazz concerts/festivals, including the St. Louis Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and even performed at the 2000 Grammy Awards. In 2009, Lage released his debut solo album, Sounding Point, on Emarcy. The album was widely celebrated as the arrival of a new and authoritative voice on the instrument.
This was followed by the concept offering Gladwell in 2011. He fronted a quintet that featured bassist Jorge Roeder, tenor saxophonist Dan Blake, cellist Aristides Rivas, and drummer/percussionist Tupac Mantilla.
The guitarist switched labels for 2013's Free Flying. Issued on Palmetto Records, it was recorded in duet with pianist Fred Hersch.
The duo format apparently agreed with Lage, though its focus shifted a bit. In 2014 he issued two such albums; the first was Avalon with guitarist Chris Eldridge. Produced by the Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale, it contained bluegrass, folk, jazz, and classic pop standards; the pair called it a "love letter to the acoustic guitar." In late November, Room, with fellow jazz guitarist Nels Cline, appeared on Mack Avenue. Its focus was on a range of material, from intricately composed and complex works to free and spontaneous improvisations. ~ Greg Prato & Thom Jurek