A rare treat for pianists is when we get the chance to play with another pianist… on two pianos (not sitting at the same piano, which can also be nice, depending on the size of the bench. =) For me, I'm lucky enough to have had that opportunity semi-regularly with Berlin-based pianist Julia Hülsmann. Tonight we will have that opportunity again at the wonderful concert hall Salurinn in Kópavogur, Iceland.
It's a rare thing to connect with an incredible musician like Verneri Pohjola, but then to realize he's as nice a person as you would ever meet is a real pleasure. I first heard him a few years ago in Bremen, Germany and was immediately hooked. After buying his albums I got in touch about somehow playing together. We kept in touch and then when my trio was invited to play at Tampere Jazz Happening in Finland last November, I knew this was the opportunity we had been waiting for.
After our performance in Tampere we took up residence at the Sibelius Academy studio outside of Helsinki for a couple of days. It was a huge converted barn with a beautiful Steinway B and a sauna downstairs! There were little cabins up the hill where we slept and they even had a cook to keep us nourished.
Everyone contributed compositions and I'm very pleased with how well they blend together. Of course, in the trio we're used to playing each others tunes, but Verneri's music fit right in. We also recorded a cover by the late George Michael, which might surprise some people.
Right now you can hear the album on Bandcamp, where it's available to download now or pre-order a CD and (drum-roll please!) 12" Vinyl. This will be my first vinyl pressing and I'm really excited about it. I can't wait to hold one!
Tickets are also on sale for the Album Release Concert on the Reykjavík Jazz Festival on September 6. Hope to see you there!
Alright, it's been a while. I have a good excuse though. I am very proud to have started a concert series in Iceland that focuses on women. It is called Freyjujazz in honor of the goddess Freyja who is associated with love, sex, beauty and fertility. How does that sound? The first "season" took place every Tuesday in March and April and the National Gallery of Iceland. It featured mostly Icelandic artists but we were also fortunate to have the great Myra Melford visit us from the US and Eva Kruse from Germany.
Time sure flies when you're having fun. My trio released Cielito Lindo last August and we just returned from some concerts in Europe. While we were there we were thrilled to receive the news that we got awarded "Best Performer" at the Icelandic Music Awards.
In January I released my first duo album with dutch bass clarinetist Maarten Ornstein. We met on Twitter (no kidding) and we just hit it off. He came to Iceland for some gigs and I went to Holland for some gigs and now we have this album together called Unspoken. We had our CD Release performance at the wonderful Bimhuis in Amsterdam and soon we will post some videos from there.
I am also proud to announce that my first movie score is out. The movie "Reykjavik" just hit the theaters last Friday and the music that I scored for a jazz quartet is available for "pay-what-you-want" for limited time here. We even do a take on Beethoven.
I post much more frequently on our page on Facebook so go there to see some photos from the road
Hi everyone. My new album "Cielito Lindo" is available for pre-order. It will be released at the Reykjavik Jazz Festival on August 14th, but if you reserve your copy now you can download three tracks today.
And when the album is released your copy will be shipped and/or you will get an email prompting you to download the rest of the tracks (plus two bonus "spins").
Although we recorded this in early June, the album was actually a long time in the works. We have been accumulating material for a while and in fact one of Scott's tunes "All Agaze" dates back to 1997 which he wrote on my old baby grand while visiting Iceland. We also had difficulty finding a place to record as the room where we recorded "Distilled" was being worked on. We went back to Salurinn in Kópavogur which is a beautiful concert hall with an incredible Bosendorfer. That's where we recorded "Long Pair Bond."
All three of us (Toggi, Scott and myself) contributed compositions and we also recorded works by George Gershwin, Tom Waits and the title track is a Mexican folk song which I fell in love with the first time I heard Marta Gomez sing it. We also carry on our tradition of "spins" (brief free improvisations) which serve as interludes between the songs.
I'm preparing (logistically and mentally) for my trip to Bremen for the Jazz Ahead conference after which I'm really excited that my trio is headed to Berlin to play at B-Flat and then to the Women in Jazz Festival in Halle, Germany… and as if that weren't enough, as soon as we get back to Iceland we're headed straight into the studio to record our next album with engineer Kjartan Kjartansson.
Here's a little "teaser" video with some live audio from our recent concert at Harpa. I discovered the Time-Lapse mode on my iPhone and couldn't resist.
We are looking forward to returning to Germany at the end of April. We will be at B Flat in Berlin on April 30 and at the Women in Jazz Festival in Halle on May 1st. See you there and in the meantime please enjoy this live performance video from Porgy and Bess in Vienna!
In a way, music is all about relationships. It's about connecting with people in the moment, on stage and off. I've been very lucky to connect with some wonderful people over the years and the past couple of weeks have been no exception.
From September 23rd-27th I took part in a Women Composers Workshop in Patreksfjörður, where I met and played with some of the finest new voices in Icelandic music: Una Stef, Soffía Björg, Rósa Guðrún, Íris Hrund og Þóra Gísla. We had a great time and Soffía and I even wrote a couple of tunes together.
The day after I returned home I flew to Berlin where I had the great fortune of performing duo with the pianist Julia Hülsmann at Felleshus as part of the Play Nordic festival. You can hear an interview with us here. Although we had met before, this was our first time playing together… and it was great. It was instantly comfortable and easy, like chatting with an old friend. I hope that we have the opportunity to perform together again real soon.
And now, my friend Maarten Ornstein returns to Iceland for three duo concerts and a recording. He first performed with me on the 2013 Reykjavik Jazz Festival and then in Amsterdam last May. So it's his turn to get on a plane. (See my itinerary for details.)
The trio has just returned from a fabulous tour of the US and one splendid concert in Canada. I've just posted pictures from the tour to our page on Facebook which can be viewed here. Toggi had special ordered a travel bass for this tour which turned out to be great. It has a removable neck which should make our future travels a bit easier.
As some of you may already know I had a great time in Amsterdam last May with bass clarinetist Maarten Ornstein. We got 4 stars in the newspaper Parool. Yay! He has now posted some videos from our performance at Splendor on YouTube. Please view them often and share with the world