Preconceptions happily disintegrate as this nine-track session unfolds, offering a measured blend of folksy, tuneful accessibility and sparky, creative unpredictability. Skúlason is a jazz piano graduate of FÍH Music School, Reykjavik, also having studied at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Netherlands (amongst his teachers, Jasper Soffers and Aaron Parks). Founded as recently as 2013, the trio have performed at Reykjavik Jazz Festival, as well as in Norway and the Faroe Islands.
It's easy to cite likely influences here (Brad Mehldau, Helga Lien, Tord Gustavsen, Esbjörn Svensson), yet there's a boldness and a confidence about these attractive performances of Skúlason's original compositions which suggest such comparisons are not especially important. Here is a band that darts along its own unexpected harmonic and melodic alleyways, resounds to refreshingly purposeful percussion, and dwells amongst crystalline pools of elevation – a balance which, throughout these 51 minutes, becomes increasingly magical.
Hollands Spoor (perhaps inspired by The Hague's main line railway station) bustles with individual displays of bravura, its sudden, snapping changes indicating great communication between these musicians; and the simple, held-back serenity of Hug mann allan is delightful, particularly Skúlason's capricious harmonic shifts. Crisp, fluctuating details throughout Í innsta hring (In the inner circle) pleasingly exemplify the trio's skills in striving for different colours and textures; similarly, the six and a half minutes of Smásagnasafn á repeat (Short stories on repeat) evolve boisterously and vagariously – all part of the strong pull of this recording. And to close, suitably-titled Heyra meira (Hear more), with its simple but exquisite tracery, leaves behind the hope that this classy trio will continue to explore and release new material in the future.
(Ingi Bjarni Skúlason OBS001. CD Review by Adrian Pallant) LONDON JAZZ NEWS
01. Virkar ("It works")
02. Fals ekki vals ("False not waltz") - dedicated to people who don't dance waltz)
03. Á hálum ís ("On slippery ice")
04. Erfiðleikum gæddur ("To have troubles")
05. Hollands Spoor (a train station in the Netherlands)
06. Hug minn allan ("With all my mind")
07. Í innsta hring ("In the innest circle")
08. Smásagnasafn á repeat ("Short story collection on repeat")
09. Heyra meira ("Hear more")
Ingi Bjarni Skúlason: piano
Valdimar Olgeirsson: bass
Óskar Kjartansson: drums