The back story for Lage Lund’s sixth Criss Cross recording dates to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the spring of 2020. Lund – a native of Skien, Norway who’d lived in the U.S. since 1995 – had just returned to his homeland with his wife and two daughters, then 5 and 7 years old. With school on hiatus, the family had to improvise an at-home curriculum.
“My wife and I – mainly my wife – made it up on the fly,” Lund recalls three years later via Zoom. “One day the theme was learning about elephants, another day it was ‘Ancient Egypt’ or the ‘Stone Age’ or ‘Trees’ or ‘Horses’ – completely random.” In conjunction with these lessons, Lund established a daily ritual whereby he spent an hour or so writing a tune based on the theme du jour, another hour to 90 minutes recording it, and another two hours creating and editing a one-minute video – the better to fit within Instagram guidelines – from public domain GIFs. Over the course of five or six weeks, Lund created a playlist of 36 videos, which he uploaded to YouTube.
“It was a mental health project,” Lund says. “With touring gone and no one to play with, I wanted to give myself a task and feel at the end of the day I’d done something tangible – I didn’t have this song this morning, and now here it is. To pull it off, I dealt with short forms, mostly AABA structure, between 8 and 16 bars. Also, for the first time since my early twenties, I had an abundance of time to practice, which allowed me to delve into things – voice leading experiments, for example – that weren’t necessarily oriented towards getting ready for the next gig, the next tour, the next recording, but which interest me for the long term. It was a bit like going to an artist retreat or residency.”
Fast forward to the fall of 2021: Lund was back in the saddle, primarily working with saxophonist Melissa Aldana, whose 2022 Blue Note release '12 Stars' he co-wrote and produced. Soon thereafter, Criss Cross owner Jerry Teekens called to ascertain his interest in making another album. For Lund, 45 when the Most Peculiar session transpired in June 2022, the offer was an opportunity to reunite with a band he launched in 2014. Pianist Sullivan Fortner (35) and drummer Tyshawn Sorey (41), both among the most gifted practitioners ever to improvise on their respective instruments, contributed their unique mojo to Lund’s 2019 Criss Cross release, Terrible Animals (Criss 1402). Virtuoso bassist Matt Brewer (39), played on Lund’s first leader date (Romantic Latino for Ladies, on a Japanese label) in 2006, had Lund play guitar on his own Criss Cross debut Mythology (Criss 1373), and recently played on a Lund trio covers recital (with Sorey) for another label, including four songs by Andrew Hill.
|1.||Cigarettes (Lage Lund) 5:02|
|2.||Trees (Lage Lund) 5:18|
|3.||Circus Island (Lage Lund) 6:23|
|4.||Warsaw (Lage Lund) 7:27|
|5.||Elephants (Lage Lund) 4:57|
|6.||Stone Age (Lage Lund) 6:16|
|7.||Lost In Your Hometown (Lage Lund) 6:08|
|8.||Antarctica (Lage Lund) 6:51|
|9.||Bad Acrobat (Lage Lund) 6:21|
|10.||Horses (Lage Lund) 5:02|
Total Time: 59:45
Recorded June 17, 2022 in Astoria, NY, USA by Michael Marciano