Material: Laurence Juber is a Grammy-winning guitarist-composer who boasts a resumé that includes stints with Paul McCartney’s Wings, Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, Seal and many others. His mix of material is sophisticated, eclectic and draws liberally from jazz, blues, pop, American Songbook, folk and classical music. Instrumental hymns like “Amazing Grace” and movie classics are sequenced alongside a handful of original compositions taken from his albums LJ and Altered Reality.
Musicianship: Juber is a master on the guitar. His incredible reach gives him tremendous facility with chords and single note lines. And his ability to integrate a myriad of ideas into a single arrangement is both entertaining and technically profound. He uses all facets of the acoustic guitar, from fretboard finger-tapping and bell-like harmonics to playing its body in a percussive manner. Also, his use of legato phrasing and alternate voicing maintains a sense of adventure for traditional songs as well as original material.
Performance: Juber’s Facebook Live performance on 9/11 respectfully paid tribute to first responders and those who lost their lives on that fateful day, with a soul-stirring version of “Amazing Grace.” His take was appropriately reverent, but also featured some high-wire string bends and jazzy chord substitutions. A lighter tune, “Bob’s Your Uncle,” followed and put a spotlight on fast riffing with a mix of folk and Wes Montgomery-like filigree.
Another tune, “Silhouette,” featured nuanced tonal shadings with a strong arpeggio base. The shift from darkness to lighter moods was a nice touch by Juber. Harold Arlen’s “If I Only Had a Brain” from The Wizard of Oz was a surprise and his engaging technique on this classic was evenly matched by his winning smile.
Summary: As with many artists these days, broadcasting from studios and creative bunkers is the new reality. Hence, the virtual experience, for both artist and audience, can lose a bit of its luster. But that is not the case with Laurence Juber. Regardless of the circumstances, he is in his element. In a quiet solo setting such as this, one is able to really observe his fretboard wizardry and focus on the beauty of his playing up close and personal. And based on the comments from fervent fans in the chat room, they are good with that.