Lage Lund: Most Peculiar

The Norwegian guitarist, with an American band featuring drummer Tyshawn Sorey, conjures a mood reminiscent of Paul Motian and Bill Frisell


On the album line-up, the only musician I knew was drummer Tyshawn Sorey. If he’s on board, though, listeners are usually in for a treat – and so it proved. The leader is Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund, who appears with his American band – completing the quartet are pianist Sullivan Fortner and bassist Matt Brewer. One writer thoughtfully compares the results to that of a later Paul Motian group, with Sorey providing characteristic looseness.

It turns out that this is Lage Lund’s sixth release for Criss Cross, so it’s puzzling that I’d not heard of this guitarist of rare quality and originality. Lund was born in Skien, Norway but lived in the US from 1995. He’d just returned to his homeland with his wife and two young daughters when Covid hit. He established a daily routine of writing and recording a song – “a mental health project”, he says.

The most memorable composition is the opener, Cigarettes, which I’ve been playing obsessively since I first heard the album. A repeating, bluesy eight-bar formula with a country feel reminiscent of Keith Jarrett or Bill Frisell and some unexpected progressions, it has a hypnotic effect. Rivalling it are the affecting Horses, the beautifully plangent Bad Acrobat and the quirky Lost In Your Hometown, with its rolling, drum-dominated coda. Stone Age is a clever, eventful mid-tempo piece.

The band are outstanding, Sorey in particular, who reminds us that he is a non-pareil percussionist of immense sensitivity – shown for instance by the wonderful opening of Horses. So this is a strongly recommended release. It features ingenious compositions and fluent and original improvisation – and I look forward to the guitarist’s next.

Cigarettes; Trees; Circus Island; Warsaw; Elephants; Stone Age; Lost In Your Hometown; Antarctica; Bad Acrobat; Horses (60.21)
Lund (g); Sullivan Fortner (p); Matt Brewer (b); Tyshawn Sorey (d). June 2022.
Criss Cross Jazz Records 1412