The back story for Lage Lund’s sixth Criss Cross recording dates to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 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. With school on hiatus, the family had to improvise an at-home curriculum. “My wife and I made it up on the fly,” Lund recalls three years later. “One day the theme was learning about elephants, another day it was ‘Ancient Egypt’ – 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. 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.”