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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Julian Lage Trio - Arclight (Mack Avenue, 2016) ****

By Paul Acquaro

I don't think you can find a better example of flow then in the sinuous lines of Julian Lage's electric guitar. A razor thin Telecaster tone slithers out of the speakers at the start of 'Fortune Teller' and refuses to leave thereafter.

The smart fusiony opener gives way to the ebullient old-timey 'Persian Rug' - a song performed by Jack Teargarden. A few months ago in an interview with Lage, he spoke about this record (he was fresh off recording it then) and mentioned his fascination with the "pre-great American songbook" - as he described it - tunes from the 20s and 30s that were 'the wild-west' of songwriting, before the styles and formulas set in. It's obvious he enjoys teasing out these traditions and giving them a good workout.

His bandmates are bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wolleson. Two of the key figures in bringing this type of folk-tinged modern jazz to life. Between the two, they have an extensive working relationship with almost everyone it seems - like Bill Frisell, Jim Hall, and many more - and they certainly bring their well-honed sensibilities to bear.

The track 'Supera' is a great example of the group's grasp on the ephemeral nature of this light-hearted and deep-rooted music. Breezily, the Latin-tinged tune builds from Wolleson's economically placed beats. 'Stop Go Start' gets into some more atmospheric ramblings, happily coloring outside the lines. One could go on and on, as there is much to describe, but suffice to say, Arclight is a great recording and a primer on just how a good a guitar trio can sound.