Free Flying

Fred Hersch / Julian Lage

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Free Flying Review

by Thom Jurek

It's quite rare when a jazz duet album between two complementary instruments is so intuitive it often sounds like the work of one player with multiple voices. Such is the case on Free Flying, a live encounter between pianist Fred Hersch and 25-year-old guitarist Julian Lage. The latter is a prodigy who first appeared on a David Grisman album at age eight, played live with Carlos Santana at nine, and by 13 had worked with everyone from Herbie Hancock and Gary Burton (he is still a member of the vibraphonist's New Quartet), as well as issuing a pair of fine solo albums for Emarcy in 2009 and 2011, establishing himself as a mature jazzman. The exercise here is counterpoint in modern harmony, and in some cases, such as on "Songs Without Words #4: Duets" and the title track, display a near classical formalism. Country gospel is the vehicle on "Down Home," while knotty modernism fuels "Beatrice" and "Stealthiness." The closer is a thoroughly reimagined, yet vastly imaginative reading of "Monk's Dream."

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