The first-time listener at a Lage Lund gig might wonder, “What’s he staring at?” Considering the snapshot of a guitar resting in his lap while his eyes lock in front of him, the question’s a fair one. But he isn’t in a trance; he’s merely focused on the music of the moment. And however the performance description might label that sound on paper, on the bandstand Lund’s approach remains focused.
“I really don’t care what people—or even what I would call certain kinds of music, because so much of what I love is kind of hard to say,” he says. “And any word is kind of meaningless, too.”
For a guitarist/composer who plays as many kinds of music as Lund does, transcription always has been a tool of the trade, particularly when he was a student at Berklee and later, Juilliard. The act of transcribing opened his ears, and allowed him to get inside the sounds that, at first, were unfamiliar to him.
“(Transcribing) is one of the more helpful things I’ve done for my playing, outside of just playing as much as I can with people who are much better than me. It’s one of the few ways you can kind of get a sense of what somebody’s doing, and try to unlock some of the mysteries and secrets and make them into something that you become sort of familiar with. I tried to not get stuck in a certain era or a certain instrument or a certain type of player, but would go for some type of player who was maybe playing in a way that’s really different from how I would play, or the types of harmonies that I would play. That (was helpful) to widen my perception of what music can be. It’s wide open.”
As many musicians are, Lund was struck by the vastness of the scene when he arrived in New York as a young player. Beyond the myriad styles and experiences artists from all over the world brought to the city, the lack of universal belief in what music “should” sound like excited the Norwegian-born artist. “There’s no consensus on that, really,” he says.
“The only thing is that it’s always at a very high level. It’s not the cheapest place to live or the easiest place to work. You’re there because of the other players, and those players come from all over, and they have all kinds of different backgrounds. So, you have to be open. And listening to a lot of different kinds of music enables that, and makes you want to seek out those experiences. And when you have those experiences, it makes you realize, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of music out there I really don’t know anything about—maybe I need to start filling in those gaps.’”
Born and raised in Norway, Lund moved to Boston after high school, citing the uniformity of sound indicative of a smaller scene as the reason he left his hometown.
“There’s a certain group of players that are the top players,” says Lund, “and they all play together all the time and they kind of develop this way of playing that’s like, ‘what we do here,’ in that town. It can be great, but it’s not going to have the same range and diversity as it does here. (In high school,) I was starting to get really interested in and fascinated by a lot of American stuff, whether it was going back and discovering Coltrane or even a Branford record—or Kenny Garrett or something. And I didn’t understand what was going on at all, but for some reason I really liked it.” (more…)