Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunna Gunnlaugs - Distilled (Sunny Sky Records, 2013)

The Icelandic pianists' most recent album is a trio recording with Porgrimur Jonsson on bass and Scott McLemore on drums. It explores a melodic landscape where folk-like melodies and motifs shift in a manner reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s albums made in the 1970’s. “Momento” opens in an interesting way, with clattering percussion keeping the melodic and mid-tempo bass and piano on their toes. After a fine bass feature for Jonsson, the group ramps up slightly and then closes. The trio has a lot of fun on “Switcheroo” developing a tumbling tempo they gather momentum culminating in some excellent collective improvisation, led by dark toned piano. “Gallop” was one of the highlights of this album, and the band lives up to the title, taking no prisoners playing with a strong percussive feel. The group likes to work at unhurried medium or ballad tempos which develop dynamically as they move forward. “The New Now” is a fine example of this, as the music begins by developing subtle textures and then picking up to an abrupt finale. This was a fine album, which should appeal to a broad swath of mainstream jazz fans. Gunnlaugs is an excellent pianist with the crystal clear sound and a very democratic bandleader who develops an interactive trio concept. Distilled -

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