BRYN ROBERTS & LAGE LUND
TIME & LOCATION
Bryn Roberts & Lage Lund Concert is Sponsored by The Blue Pearl Foundation!
Thank you Karen Oxorn for donating the piano tuning!
View video: Nightsong EPK - Bryn Roberts and Lage Lund
Hide the Moon and the Stars, the sublime new duo recording from pianist Bryn Roberts and guitarist Lage Lund, isn’t the kind of jazz album that needs to be read about before it can be understood and enjoyed. It didn’t premiere as part of a postmodern opera or multimedia performance; there isn’t an overarching concept gleaned from abstract expressionism or the poetry of Rumi. Rather, with its casually stunning interplay and lyrical original music, it’s “simply a good showcase for these two particular players, these two voices, these two musical personalities who’ve been friends for over a dozen years,” Roberts says.
That relationship began, as so many inspired jazz collaborations have, through a jam session at a New York City joint—in this instance the original location of Freddy’s, a divey, low-key hang in Brooklyn. Both were part of a tightknit clique that included outstanding talent like saxophonist Will Vinson and bassist Orlando le Fleming, and Roberts became drawn to the totality of Lund’s musicianship: his brilliantly unique harmonic vocabulary and compositional style; his openness as an improviser; his sheer technical mastery of his instrument. “He’s just one of the best guitarists in the world,” Roberts says firmly.
Lund too was smitten. “What always attracted me to Bryn’s playing was its beauty, patience and elegance,” the guitarist says. The pair discovered that their sensibilities as improvisers and composers were distinctive yet compatible; both musicians can deliver a feeling of newness while also reminding you of certain jazz-history touchstones. What’s more, their easygoing, intuitive rapport as pals quickly carried over to the bandstand. “Playing with Bryn is having a conversation with an old friend,” Lund says. “We don’t need to get acquainted or ask polite questions. We draw from years of history.”
Following two releases of dynamic, kinetic small-group jazz—2005’s Ludlow and 2013’s Fables—Roberts saw his seamless connection with Lund as both a fascinating detour and an engaging next step for his discography. “The duo gives me more freedom to be more spontaneous in terms of arrangements and the selection of music,” he explains. Their debut album, Nightsong, released in the fall of 2016, struck a perfect balance—an equilibrium between two fresh, imaginative voices and the graceful, sometimes mysterious language that descends from Bill Evans and Jim Hall. Not surprisingly, Roberts and Lund count those classic Evans/Hall recordings as profound influences. “Somehow, their collaboration transcended how great they were as players individually,” Roberts says, “and made this incredible kind of dialogue that I loved.” You can easily hear a similar sort of elevation at work in the Roberts/Lund tandem.
Hide the Moon and the Stars deepens Roberts and Lund’s bond as improvisers, while offering a more symmetrical and purposeful set of compositions. “We’re both writing music with our duo in mind,” Roberts says. “So the music has become tailored to this particular thing.” Covering a wide range of temperaments and vibes, from introspective and melancholy to meditative to playful, the album is at once continually surprising and deftly programmed. It’s also sonically marvelous, captured sans headphones in one big great-sounding room, Oktaven Audio, just outside New York City. The studio came highly recommended by one of Roberts’ former teachers, Fred Hersch, who had raved about its Hamburg Steinway grand.
The album kicks off with Lund’s “California,” a gorgeous folk-like tune of deceptive simplicity. “Amaryllis” follows, a pretty waltz that Roberts dedicates to his wife, a botanist; its changes and charming solo work can put you in mind of a cherished old standard. A couple tracks later they dig into an actual standard, “You Go to My Head,” falling into more conventional roles of soloist and accompanist but showing no less harmonic and melodic ingenuity. “Elsa and Anna,” the closer, should be an obvious reference for anyone with young children, like Lund. “I wrote this the day before the session, and after the first take, the engineer asked for the title. I thought, ‘Oh, dear, this is something right out of Frozen,’” Lund says. So he went with that notion, and named it after characters from his daughters’ favorite movie. “At this point, I’ve heard that soundtrack almost as many times as I’ve listened to Coltrane’s Crescent, my favorite record.”
A few tunes aren’t titled with as much love or sentimentality. Roberts’ inquisitive “Cheers for the Call” invokes a cynical musicians’ joke. (Example: “Thanks for doing my gig last-minute, man. You were the fifth guy I tried to get.” “Well, cheers for the call.”) Lund’s bittersweet melody “Brent Rogers” has his “favorite of any title I’ve come up with so far. It was written for and dedicated to Bryn—but as if I couldn’t remember his name, so it’s slightly insulting.” With polytonal moments, harmonic curveballs and Lund’s eerie electronics, Roberts’ “Alternative Facts” pays tribute to the preposterous age we live in. “I’m not trying to make any kind of political statement with this particular title,” Roberts says, chuckling. “It’s just something that was such an insane turn of phrase that I kind of latched onto it. So I wanted to create a piece that was slightly unsettling.” Lund also couldn’t help but respond in part to our—ahem—disconcerting political reality. The guitarist’s quizzical, surreal, tension-filled title composition, whose name was inspired by the opera Salome, “refers to something so terrible happening that you want to hide it from the universe,” he says. “I wrote it right after the last election.” Along the way, a couple of pithy solo-piano interludes bind the compositions into a cohesive work that rewards a focused listen.
A pianist of “poise, elegance, a beautiful touch and a natural melodic flow,” according to Bill Charlap, Roberts has played many of jazz’s most important rooms, including regular appearances at NYC venues like Smalls, Mezzrow, the Jazz Gallery, the 55 Bar and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. As a bandleader he’s recorded with Seamus Blake, Drew Gress, Orlando le Fleming, Mark Ferber and Johnathan Blake, and as a collaborator he’s shared bandstands with Matt Penman, Jochen Rueckert, Rodney Green, Joe Martin, Jaleel Shaw, Will Vinson and the legendary bassist Chuck Israels. Roberts’ credits include several recordings as part of Grammy nominee Alan Ferber’s acclaimed nonet, and his experience moves beyond jazz and onto stages with renowned singer-songwriters like Shawn Colvin and Rosanne Cash. “It’s a joy and honor to work with Bryn,” Cash says. “He is a consummate musician—attentive to the nuances of the song, the singer, the arrangement and the other musicians in the band—and he always delivers more than you expect. Bryn is superbly trained, but he is not bound by the limits of notation or charts. He’s an artist and a beautiful soul.”
Described as a “guitarist who balances his abundant proficiencies with an aesthetic of gleaming calm” by the New York Times, the Norwegian-born Lund hit the ground running following his win at the 2005 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition. Praised publicly by such jazz-guitar icons as Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel, Lund became a fixture of the Rising Star guitar category of the DownBeat Critics Poll, and he has taken part in shows and sessions helmed by Mark Turner, David Sánchez, Kendrick Scott, Seamus Blake, Jaleel Shaw and 2019 NEA Jazz Master Maria Schneider. As a bandleader he’s released four albums on the venerated Criss Cross Jazz label, including his latest, the trio date Idlewild.
This fall, Roberts and Lund will take the duo on tour to support Hide the Moon and the Stars. As stirring as the album is, an intimate club setting is where the insight and telepathy of their union really takes hold. “I can set up a tune, or Lage can set up a tune, and there’s very little planning or communication that has to happen in advance,” Roberts says. “One of us or the other can intuit what direction the other player is going to go in, and can find the best musical solution or the best musical accompaniment. That can be freeing, just getting to know someone’s musical personality. There’s a deep trust that happens here.”
Bryn Roberts is pianist, keyboardist and composer who is in demand in a wide variety of musical contexts.
He has performed, toured and recorded extensively both as a leader and sideman, and is a mainstay at NYC jazz clubs like Smalls, Mezzrow, The Jazz Gallery, the 55 bar and Dizzy's. An acclaimed composer and bandleader, Roberts has four albums out featuring his own music: his debut “Present Tense”, “Ludlow” (featuring Seamus Blake, Drew Gress and Mark Ferber), “Fables” (featuring Seamus Blake, Orlando le Fleming and Johnathan Blake) and his most recent release, a duo album with guitarist Lage Lund called “Nightsong”.
Roberts has toured widely with his own groups including festival, radio and club appearances across the USA, Canada, the UK, Spain and Japan with some of New York’s finest musicians: Matt Penman, Jochen Rueckert, Rodney Green, Joe Martin, Jaleel Shaw, Johnathan Blake, Mark Ferber, Will Vinson and Seamus Blake.
Roberts is an original member of the Nonet led by Grammy nominee Alan Ferber, and has recorded with the group for a series of critically-acclaimed releases: “Scenes from an Exit Row”, “The Compass”, “Chamber Songs” and “Roots and Transitions”. He also plays frequently with saxophonist Jon Gordon's Quartet, and bassist Chuck Israels.
In addition to his work in jazz and improvised music, Roberts has played and toured with many artists in the singer-songwriter world, including Grammy award winners Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, Shawn Colvin, Stax records legend William Bell, and Dar Williams.
Roberts' next album with guitarist Lage Lund will be released this fall.
Lage Lund - After discarding his dream of becoming a professional skateboarder, Lund diverted his attention to music and picked up the guitar at the age of 13. He soon founded his own trio playing gigs at local clubs, and at the age of 16 he was allowed to start playing regularly. While Skien, Norway might not boast the most thriving of jazz scenes, Lund himself was strongly drawn to the music. This, along with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, led him to relocate to Boston after graduating high school. There he found a great community of musicians through the schools and through a steady gig at famed Wally’s jazz café. In 2002 a grant from the Fulbright foundation offered him the opportunity to move to New York. In 2003 he entered The Juilliard School full scholarship jazz program as the first electric guitarist in the history of the school, with graduation in 2005.
Lund has been a fixture in the jazz clubs since he relocated to New York, frequently leading bands at Smalls, 55bar, The Jazz Gallery, as well as larger venues like Jazz at Lincoln Center, Blues Alley and the Kennedy Center. At the same time he is a busy sideman working with a variety of highly established musicians like Carmen Lundy, Ingrid Jensen, Wynton Marsalis, and the LCJO, Eric Revis, Seamus Blake and others.
Taking the first place at the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition made people outside of New York take notice of this guitarist, and with a couple of records in the works this trend will hopefully continue. Acclaimed as one of the finest guitarists in jazz, Lund has performed and recorded with artists like Ron Carter, Mulgrew Miller, Wynton Marsalis, and FLY & Maria Schneider.
Lund released his debut solo album Early Songs in 2008, and followed up with Unlikely Stories in 2010. Then in 2012 there was a live album Four - Live At Smalls before Foolhardy came in 2013. In 2015 he released the album Idlewild, all on the label Criss Cross Jazz.
- Sold OutBryn Roberts & Lage Lund$25$250$0