With 2 Grammy awards and 22 albums featuring his mastery of the acoustic guitar, Laurence Juber continues to expand his repertoire, resume, and renown.
From a formal musical education, Juber went on to ignite stadiums of fans with his blazing rock n roll solos, years before he demonstrated priceless vintage instruments at the Smithsonian Institute and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Laurence Juber began his career straight out of music school, playing primarily electric guitars as a member of Paul McCartney and Wings. After Wings disbanded, he moved from London to New York and ultimately Southern California, where he became one of the entertainment industry’s most sought-after studio musicians.
The varied voices of his guitars can be heard on the soundtracks of countless television programs, feature films, and albums of the top recording artists. He has even scored musical comedies for the theater. But Laurence Juber’s true musical love is solo fingerstyle acoustic guitar, something he does as well or better than anyone else on the planet.
Only a Paper Moon by Harold Arlen, arranged by LJ
Juber’s own compositions meld jazz, blues, rock and even classical styles and technique. They are often deeply personal, like Catch, which was named after the NYC club Catch a Rising Star, where he met the other love of his life, his wife Hope.
LJ’s arrangements for solo guitar of some of the world’s best loved music are rich with texture, capturing the spirit of the ensemble pieces with just one instrument and his two hands. His two albums of Beatles tunes and another of later McCartney compositions are very popular with Beatles fans as well as lovers of world-class guitar playing. Here is My Guitar Gently Weeps, recorded unplugged.
LJ’s most recent studio release, entitled Under the Indigo Sky, was recorded as a mood album, conceived and intended to be enjoyed late at night when the lights are low. It includes Juber’s sublime arrangement of Cry Me a River.
When I went looking for a video of this tune, I found three good examples, each recorded with a different guitar. Juber has played various makes and styles of guitars though the decades. Since 2001 he has performed with one of his C.F. Martin signature models, of which there have been several editions, an honor no other artist has yet to receive.
They were made in mahogany, Indian rosewood, Brazilian rosewood, Madagascar rosewood (seen in the videos above) and a maple edition that included a version of the D-Tar Wave-Length pickup system that Juber uses on stage, although he blends in an internal microphone as well. And in 2011 a very limited edition was made in Hawaiian koa, expressly constructed with as light a build as possible for optimum responsiveness, using animal hide glues throughout.
So here are three versions of Cry Me a River, preformed on a mahogany Juber model, followed by Brazilian rosewood, and the hide glue Koa edition. Each has an Adirondack spruce top. Although the mix between pickup, mic, and PA varies, the personality of the individual guitar and tonal coloring from each tonewood comes through very nicely.
No ordinary guitar…this OMC-44K LJ has an Orchestra Model body size, with a Cutaway and it is made in a modern version of Martin’s Style 44, with back and sides of Hawaiian Koa wood, known for its unique combination of clear trebles, warm harmonics, but with a more open mid-range compared to other rich tonewoods like rosewood. Just the way Laurence Juber likes it.
A “late-night” record of fingerstyle artistry, Juber’s Under and Indigo Sky is …
Languid, lovely, evocative… a melt into a sumptuous sofa, and the sonic equivalent of isolated pools of low light playing off facets of cut crystal and opulent aperitif, close sensuous voices, soft laughter bittersweet with memory at the end of an evening. A warm, layered and very human scene painted entirely with one acoustic guitar drenched with resonant chords, clear and unhurried melody lines, and shadowy blue bass notes that rise or fall in pitch or pace like a melancholy pulse. An exquisite piece of music played on an exquisite guitar, exquisitely.
And that is just the first track on Juber’s Under an Indigo Sky, the latest CD from the two-time Grammy winner.
It was mixed by Al Schmitt, who has won 19 Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
On the CD, the slightest string vibration, creak of the guitar’s hide glue joints, or wave of Juber’s “virtual whammy bar” technique used to coax out every drop of resonance is heard clearly and in three dimensions. The vinyl version must be breathtaking.
As impressive as the vibrant playing is, it is the more languid performances, such as Cry Me A River with its sustained chords and un-struck string glides that truly show off the mastery of the engineer and the exceptional qualities of the guitar. While both the mellow and the vigorous selections reveal the mastery and exceptional qualities of the guitarist.
We heard from our friend Laurence Juber this morning.
The double Grammy-winning guitarist dropped by One Man’s Guitar to check out the new site, and then dropped us a line to let us know about his new guitar, and tell us that our copy of his latest CD is on the way.
The album was recorded entirely with his Martin OMC-44K LJ. It was made in Martin’s custom shop and features Hawaiian koa wood and special ultra-light construction for maximum resonance.
It was also available to the public in a limited edition of 25 guitars, available exclusively through Wildwood Guitars of Louisville, Colorado.
But LJ let us know he has a new personal custom on order. It will be identical to his OMC-18 LJ, only with a top made from the high altitude Swiss spruce that debuted on a small number of special Martins this past January, like the Custom Shop’s own CS-OM-13.