Julian Lage: View With A Room

The man often touted as a major new figure in jazz guitar issues his second Blue Note album, featuring fellow six-stringer Bill Frisell


With a dozen albums to his name starting with the eclectic debut Sounding Point (EmArcy, 2009) Julian Lage is now firmly established as one of the world’s most gifted jazz guitarists. Born in 1987, he was a true child prodigy, playing guitar from five years old. His talent is showcased in various mind-blowing YouTube clips such as the documentary Jules At Eight and, aged nine, playing on stage with Carlos Santana.

View With A Room, his second album for Blue Note after the 2021 Squint, consolidates the next phase of his career and aligns him with the major players on this genre-defining label. He is joined by his regular rhythm section, Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder and ex-The Bad Plus drummer Dave King. Also appearing alongside Lage on seven tracks is guitar doyen Bill Frisell.

Whilst Lage and Frisell play with their own unique voices, their respective limpid tones are not radically dissimilar so it’s sometimes challenging to distinguish between them as their guitars meld together. Generally though, Lage takes the primary solos whilst Frisell is heard in a slightly more secondary role.

In its opening minutes, Tributary evinces shades of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing but soon evolves into its own distinctive bluesiness. Auditorium – the album’s lead single – has all the trademarks of Frisell’s laid-back country-influenced sound. On the three Frisell-less tunes, Word For Word, Heart Is A Drum, and Castle Park, Lage sporadically employs a warm finger-picking style which merges seamlessly into flowing single-note solos.

After a vigorous drum opening, Chavez, channelling the Hawaii 5-0 theme, emerges as a rock-infused belter adorned by some Wes-like octaves. The uptempo Fairbanks concludes this very satisfying set, again indicative of Lage’s star unequivocally in the ascendant. Importantly, the guitarist equally impresses, both with his trio and in the augmented guest guitarist configuration.

Tributary; Word For Word; Auditorium; Heart Is A Drum; Echo; Chavez; Temple Steps; Castle Park; Let Every Room Sing; Fairbanks (44.00)
Lage (elg); Jorge Roeder (b); Dave King (d); add Bill Frisell (elg) on all tracks except Word For Word, Heart Is A Drum. Castle Park. Brooklyn, NY, 26-30 January 2022.
Blue Note 4552835