Saturday, April 23, 2011

OFFBEAT JAZZ

"Gladwell” could easily be mistaken as an offbeat jazz album. Some old-fashion jazz fans may even question if it’s authentic jazz. I believe the album’s creator jazz guitarist Julian Lage meant for “Gladwell” to be   eclectic. This album is his follow up to the Grammy nominated “Sounding Point”. Emarcy Records unveils to the public “Gladwell” on Tuesday.

Lage’s style is like the gypsy jazz co-creator Django Reinhart. Lage can strum fast as if his fingers are mini-race cars. He can play melodically, too. Lage explains that “Gladwell” is a story driven album with each song representing a fictional character. Labeling “Gladwell,” a musical novel wouldn’t be off base.

On “Gladwell”, Lage mixes an array of his interests jazz, bluegrass, Latin, chamber music and American folk music. Somehow, he makes it work. Cellist Aristides Rivas, bass player Jorge Rodedert, saxophonist Dan Blake and drummer Tupac Mantilla are vital to the album’s appeal.

“Gladwell,” opens strong. The group exerts its will on “233 Butler”. Lage doesn’t allow us to get comfortable. He changes the mood often. “Margaret” is a teddy bear soft ballad. Lage’s guitar blends with the tenor sax and the cello. At the end, Blake and Rivas come up with lighthearted sound effects on their instruments. Lage has a private moment with the Mantilla on “Iowa Taken”. On all 12 cuts, Lage proves he’s an uncommon jazz guitarist, especially on “Cocoon,” which he plays alone. I recommend “Gladwell” if you long for an eclectic jazz album.
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