Jazz is not an easy genre to get into. The scales are harder to comprehend, there often isn’t an instantly recognizable hook or melody, and the songs can stretch on for vast periods of time — by pop standards anyway. Most folks are hard-pressed to name a jazz artist outside Miles Davis or Coltrane, and it gets even harder if you ask them to name a modern player.
Enter Julian Lage. Though the prodigious guitar player is only 30, he’s had a career to rival most folks twice his age. He played at the Grammy’s when he was 12, became a faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop when he was 15, and started releasing albums, both by himself and with other equally accomplished players, at the age of 21. Lage’s most recent release, this year’s Modern Lore, is one of his most accomplished records to date — and also one of his easiest for jazz newbies to get into. The reason? Lage adds flourishes of other genres into the mix: a touch of country here, a sprinkle of rock there, and he even dabbles in some delightfully delirious dissonance on songs like “Earth Science.” His high-level playing mixed with the easy-to-identify influences make for a record that aficionados and amateurs alike can appreciate. Jazz has always been about collaboration, watching Lage bring these songs to life with the help of his traveling band should be a real treat.