Watch Julian Lage tease magic from his Collings OM acoustic as he performs new single Nothing Happens Here live in San Francisco with his ensemble

Julian Lage
(Image credit: Julian Lage / YouTube)

Julian Lage has shared the third single from his forthcoming studio LP, Speak To Me, and also the first live footage of the jazz guitar maestro performing with his new ensemble.

The single, Nothing Happens Here, is led by Lage on his Collings OM1 JL signature acoustic guitar, and the video was taken from his 20 January appearance at SF Jazz, aka Miner Auditorium, San Francisco, where he was playing a four-night residency with his newly expanded troupe.

Lage was joined onstage by Jorge Roeder on bass, Dave King on drums, with his trio augmented by Kris Davis on piano, Patrick Warren on Keys and Levon Henry on clarinet, all of whom appear on Speak To Me. 

Nothing Happens Here is the final track from Speak To Me and feels very much like the culmination of everything he is driving at on a record that features him playing skronky rock ’n’ roll jazz licks on electric guitar, solo acoustic arrangements, and compositions that draw upon folk, gospel and blues, and on occasion some of the most audacious grooves you will hear. 

Check out 76 – released a few weeks ago alongside the haunting As It Were – for the latter.

Speak To Me takes the acoustic to new frontiers, alternating between melodic device and atonal accompaniment as the piano holds down the lead, subverting folk and jazz phrases, and deployed at times as though it were an unreliable narrator of events, going down the rabbit hole and expanding upon themes Lage drew upon on previous albums.

“Throughout my life, I’ve always responded to music that has a narrative quality to it,” Lage said. “I believe there is a kind of connective tissue that music has, and it’s important, and it’s fun to cultivate.”

Speak to me is Lage’s fourth studio album for Blue Note, and was produced by Joe Henry (Solomon Burke, Allen Toussaint), whose job was not only to shepherd the takes but to be an enabler of the improvisational nature of the whole enterprise.

“For me it became ‘How can we make a record where Julian is improvising throughout, as is his gift, while we’re also attending to the song?’” he said. “Everything had to exist in service to the song form.”

Speak To Me is released on 1st March and available to pre-order now. Lage is on tour from 28 February in the US, playing Europe from 11 April. See Julian Lage for dates and ticket details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.