Sounding Point

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Sounding Point
Sounding Point.jpg
Studio album by Julian Lage
Released March 24, 2009 (2009-03-24)
Recorded May 11, 2008 and June 15–16, 2008
Studio Legacy Studios, NYC.
Genre Jazz
Length 56:20
Label EmArcy
Producer Steven Epstein
Julian Lage chronology
Sounding Point

Sounding Point is the debut studio album by the jazz guitarist Julian Lage. It was released in March 2009 on EmArcy Records. It entered the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart at number 13 and was nominated for the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Reviews of the album were generally positive; however. one reviewer found the recording inferior to Lage's live performances.


It started with an idea, but it wasn’t until I shared with some of the other musicians that it became something. We started having these dialogues about what would the Julian Lage record be. We would talk about it all the time. What kind of songs it would have and what would it say...I didn’t want it to be virtuosic; I wanted there to be a more storytelling in this. I constantly thought about how I could represent the common theme in all these songs.

Julian Lage[1]

Sounding Point was recorded when Lage was 20 years old.[2] He plays an acoustic Martin D-18GE and an electric Linda Manzer archtop on the record.[3]

The album was nominated for the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album[4] but lost to the Joe Zawinul album 75.[5] The other nominees were Urbanus by Stefon Harris, At World's Edge by Philippe Saisse, and Big Neighborhood by Mike Stern.[6]

Various ensembles[edit]

Lage performs two solo tracks on the release, the remainder of the album consists of pieces played by three separate combos. There are two duets, "Tour One"[2] and "All Blues", with pianist Taylor Eigsti[7] and three all-string bluegrass inspired numbers, "The Informant", "Long Day, Short Night", and "Alameda", with Chris Thile on mandolin and Béla Fleck on banjo.[2] The remaining six tracks are played by some combination of Lage's touring band; saxophonist Ben Roseth, cellist Aristides Rivas, bassist Jorge Roeder, and percussionist Tupac Mantilla.[7] There are no trap drums on the recording, Mantilla plays cajón, djembe, frame drums and cymbals.[8]

Selected tracks[edit]

The album's opening track, "Clarity" was written by Lage when he was 15 years old for Gary Burton's album Next Generation. It was rewritten for this release to feature the cello playing of Aristides Rivas.[9] "All Purpose Beginning" is about writing a letter to a friend. It starts with the sound of a pencil writing on paper.[9] The album's closing track, "All Blues" is a cover of the Miles Davis composition.[10] There are two other covers, Elliott Smith's "Alameda" and Neal Hefti's "Lil' Darlin'",[3] a piece made famous by Count Basie.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Sounding Point
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[7]

David Wiegand in his review in the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Lage "demonstrates a jaw-dropping stylistic range and thrilling technique" on this "exquisite" album.[11] In his review in The Washington Post, Geoffrey Himes called Lage "a jazz newcomer more interested in elegance than in flash, more interested in instrumental storytelling than in virtuosity."[2]

The Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich found the album to be inferior to Lage's live performances. He wrote "The power of this music proved significantly greater in concert than on the recording" and "What often sounds static and predictable on disc becomes dramatically more vibrant and detailed in concert".[12]

In Patrick Ferrucci's New Haven Register review, he called the release "a cohesive and entertaining jazz journey".[1] All About Jazz managing editor wrote "a fully-formed voice that transcends yet incorporates his multifaceted stylistic interests, Lage's impressive debut points to a giant in the making".[10] Allmusic's Michael G. Nastos called the album "as impressive a debut recording as you'll hear" and Lage "a legitimate rising star".[7]


  1. "Clarity" (Julian Lage) 5:54
  2. "All Purpose Beginning" (Lage) 7:16
  3. "Familiar Posture" (Lage) 2:58
  4. "The Informant" (Béla Fleck, Lage, Chris Thile) 3:23
  5. "Peterborough" (Lage) 0:46
  6. "Long Day, Short Night" (Fleck, Lage, Thile) 5:47
  7. "Quiet, Through and Through" (Lage) 2:18
  8. "Lil' Darlin'" (Neal Hefti) 5:20
  9. "Tour One" (Taylor Eigsti, Lage) 4:27
  10. "Alameda" (Elliott Smith) 2:19
  11. "Constructive Rest" (Lage) 2:38
  12. "Motor Minder" (Lage) 6:00
  13. "All Blues" (Miles Davis) 7:14


  • Julian Lageguitar
  • Ben Roseth – saxophone on "Clarity", "All Purpose Beginning", "Peterborough", "Quiet, Through and Through", and "Motor Minder"
  • Aristides Rivas – cello on "Clarity" and "All Purpose Beginning"
  • Jorge Roeder – bass on "Clarity", "All Purpose Beginning", "Quiet, Through and Through", "Lil' Darlin'", and "Motor Minder"
  • Tupac Mantilla – hand percussion on "Clarity", "All Purpose Beginning", "Lil' Darlin'", and "Motor Minder"
  • Chris Thilemandolin on "The Informant", "Long Day, Short Night", and "Alameda"
  • Béla Fleckbanjo on "The Informant", "Long Day, Short Night", and "Alameda"
  • Taylor Eigstipiano on "Tour One" and "All Blues"


Date Chart Peak
April 11, 2009 Top Contemporary Jazz Albums 13[13]


  1. ^ a b Ferrucci, Patrick (20 March 2009). "'Point' of no return: Child prodigy Julian Lage finally steps out on his own". New Haven Register. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Himes, Geoffrey (27 March 2009). "CD Review - Julian Lage Sounding Point". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Canter, Andrea (11 July 2009). "Eclectic Sounding Points With the Julian Lage Group at the Dakota, July 14–15". Jazz Police. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Barton, Chris (3 December 2009). "Solid choices in Grammy jazz nominations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Barton, Chris (31 January 2010). "Familiar names dot jazz categories". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Levine, Doug (26 January 2010). "A Look at This Year's Grammy Award Jazz Nominees". Voice of America. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Nastos, Michael G. "Review: Standing Point". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Rubien, David (23 May 2009). "Julian Lage has got his finger on the pulse". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Hansen, Liane (22 March 2009). "Julian Lage, Guitar Prodigy, Comes of Age". NPR. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Kelman, John (23 March 2009). "Julian Lage Sounding Point". All About Jazz. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Wiegand, David (22 March 2009). "CD review: Julian Lage, Sounding Point". San Francisco Chronicle. p. R38. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Reich, Howard (11 July 2009). "Lage's guitar a breath of fresh air". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Jazz/Classical/World". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 121 (14): 45. 11 April 2009. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 9 April 2011.