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Julian Lage: The Natural

At 27, the technique, intellect and imagination that guitarists strive for over a lifetime

Julian Lage with the Gary Burton Quartet
l. to r.: Antonio Sanchez, Scott Colley, Julian Lage. Gary Burton
Julian Lage and Nels Cline, photographed by Sean Lennon
Julian Lage (l.) performing with Fred Hersch
Julian Lage (r.) in 1995, receiving guidance from his father Mario
Young Julian Lage, playing his Stratocaster

In writing and preparing the music for his remarkable new solo acoustic guitar album, Julian Lage battled one of the perils of musicianship that hasn’t been exploited in a Hollywood biopic.

A few years back, he received a grant through the Shifting Foundation, a referral that came via a dear friend and collaborator, guitarist Nels Cline. Lage, best known as a rising solo artist and through work with Cline, Gary Burton, Fred Hersch, Eric Harland, progressive-bluegrass musician Chris Eldridge and others, had long been fascinated with the idea of employing the guitar as a mini-orchestra in a lyrical and personal way. With his newfound resources in place, he cleared the summer of 2013 in order to dedicate himself to writing original music for solo acoustic guitar. “I said, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to write all day.’ Within about three days, after playing all day every day, I blew out my left hand.”

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