For his second CD as as leader, the quintessential sideman from Norway and 2005 Thelonious Monk Competition award winner, Lage Lund (pronounced Laaj Loond) gets together with the exceptional pianist Edward Simon in a quartet setting for a heady program of originals, showcasing the steely but warm and friendly electric guitar of the leader. Lund is a staunch progressive, only slightly into neo-bop, emphasizing the modernistic approach of composing this tricky and complex music, where he and Simon are mainly joined together in melodic and harmonic constructs. With drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Ben Street, the music is as rhythmically exciting as it is tunefully challenging. The inferences of several titles perfectly exemplify the inspiration behind the sounds, as "Swagger" has that easy, sneaky blues swing with an occasional bite or vibrato shadings, "Folly" has Street's poking, then prodding on an oblique melody, while the difficult, quirky "Worms" is slippery and elusive, as one might imagine. The unpredictable nature of Lund's style, employing combinations of irony with solemn repast, occasionally dark or even morose moods, and the highly developed nature of his explorations can all be heard. As on "Drum," the music draws you in and commands attention, but also makes one think deeper, with "What You See" in a basic A/B form, but alluding to more than what is present on the surface. This is fascinating modern jazz music, played by experts who are unsettlingly active and restless. Unlikely Stories requires listeners who want more challenging but accessible music in their fiber-centered diets, and for that group, or guitar hero worshipers, comes highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos