Jazz Arena, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Cheltenham UK
In a succession of dream double bass and drum pairings – Linda Oh and Johnathan Blake with Dave Douglas, Drew Gress and Eric McPherson with Ravi Coltrane – here was another: Scott Colley on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums.
And the pair in front of them were no slouches, either: Gary Burton (70) on vibes and Julian Lage (26) on guitar. If ever proof were needed that jazz is the way to eternal youth surely it lay in the playing of Burton who spent the hour and a bit just putting together the most exquisite solos when he wasn’t comping simply and elegantly for other soloists.
Burton mentioned that he and Lage had been playing together for over 10 years – yep, the boy was a bit of a prodigy.
They started out on Mongo Santamaria’s Afro Blue with wonderfully coherent solos from both Burton and Lage, and then followed it with Scott Colley’s Never The Same Way from this band’s first album, Common Ground.
Lage’s Sunday’s Uncle – from the new album, Guided Tour (reviewed here) – shows that he writes harmonically and melodically interesting tunes and is quite capable of playing “out” as well as swinging hard. His sound is very distinctive, too; he manages to get an almost acoustic sound from his guitar one minute, and then add an electric edge to it the next. How does he do it? When Jaco Pastorius was asked that question he just held up his hands. Maybe it’s the same for Lage.
A virtuoso solo showcase for Lage turned into My Funny Valentine, which certainly didn’t sound like the old warhorse it is when played as if all fresh and new by these four. And there was a great bass and drum back and forth near the end of the set.
As with the Dave Douglas Quintet the day before, this felt like such a happy band. It was sun-filled jazz for a sun-filled day.
Categories: Live review