Nov 29, 2013
If age and experience set pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Julian Lage apart, superior musicianship and mutual respect bind them together. On their live duet recording, Free Flying, Hersch, a seasoned player and composer recognized as one of the most creative jazz personalities of his generation, finds common ground with Lage, a preternaturally gifted player whose astonishing command of his instrument belies his age. With a mood as spirited as it is lyrical, Free Flying -- recorded at the Kitano in February of 2013 - highlights the intuitive give-and-take that announces itself as an inspired musical meeting of two exceptional players who trust each other completely.
Although duets may be second nature to Hersch - he's recorded numerous one-on-one albums with many vocalists and instrumentalists, and has featured duo performances on his own recordings, including the acclaimed Fred Hersch & Friends: The Duo Album (which included an alliance with Jim Hall) - Hersch had only once before recorded a full album partnered with a guitarist: Songs We Know, his 1998 encounter with Bill Frisell. As it turns out, Lage had been assiduously absorbing that album since he was an eight-year-old guitar wunderkind. Conversant with Hersch's playing, Lage - who, by the time he met the pianist in 2010, had already achieved considerable attention for his work with Gary Burton and others - began playing occasional duo gigs with him at Hersch's invitation.
When I spoke with Fred over the summer he had any number of positive things to say about Lage as a listener, a player and an improviser. Now the tables are turned as Lage and I talk about what makes Fred Hersch such a natural partner for this project.
Podcast 393 is our conversation, touching on topics as varied as what kind of guitars Lage plays and why to the many projects with which he is currently involved. Musical selections include:
Fred Hersch & Julian Lage – “Beatrice”, “Stealthiness” and “Heartland” from Free Flying. The new CD has a wide variety of tunes, including this cover of a Sam Rivers standard, and two tunes by Hersch, including “Stealthiness”, dedicated to Jim Hall.
New Gary Burton Quartet – “The Lookout” from Guided Tour. A Jim Hall-esque tune written by Julian and played with his mentor and friend Burton, bassist Scott Coley and drummer Antonio Sanchez.
Julian Lage and Chris Eldidge - "Boca Grande" from Close to Picture. This EP wiht Punch Brothers member Eldridge has a definite American or even Bluegrass feel about the tunes, perhaps recalling Lage's fascination with the playing of Bill Frisell.