The Julian Lage Group is one of the best up-and-coming ensembles in improvised music today. Fronted by guitarist Lage--with tenor saxophonist Dan Blake, cellist Aristides Rivas, bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Tupac Mantilla--the group is tight, eclectic and smokin'. From the opening strains to the final chorus of Gladwell, this quintet commands your attention with great compositions, improvisation, wit and interplay. Lage composed most of the songs on this 12-tune set, and the opener, "233 Butler", is a perfect example of his composing chops. It's a big, propulsive improv vehicle for his very fine guitar work and Mantilla's overdubbed percussion solo, which includes everything from whispered vocals to brush effects to clinking and shattered glass. It's a genre-bending tune that's equal parts folk song and world music. The leader's compositions are gloriously diverse. His debut record, "Sounding Point", was certainly impressive. But there's a beauty, honesty and energy to "Gladwell" that makes you say Julian Lage has arrived. Be it the lovely "Margaret", the fantastically rhythmic "However", the adrenaline-charged "Telegram" or any of the other wonderful songs on the album, Lage has a distinct voice as a guitarist and composer. Gladwell is a joy. F. Alkier.