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
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.)
Then this month I was thrilled see a very thoughtful, glowing review on the French website Citizen Jazz. It was also given the special "elected" status there. Ooh la la!
I'm also thrilled to announce a European tour with my trio next month beginning in Copenhagen on March 13th and ending in Vienna on March 22nd. The complete schedule is here. Unfortunately this also means we'll be on the road when the Icelandic Music Awards happens. We'll make sure to have someone ready to accept on our behalf if we are that lucky. At least we have 4 chances.
Lastly, I will be performing solo at Harpa on March 2nd as part of the KÍTÓN (Women in Music) festival. Although I've played at Harpa before with my trio, this will be my first time in the 1800 seat Eldborg – gulp. I'll also be performing with some of the other women on the festival like Ellen Kristjáns and Hafdís Huld. Get tickets here.
In Iceland it is a rare thing for a jazz group to get the opportunity to play the same program 5 times in two weeks, especially when it's original music. This is mainly due to the fact that there is a pretty small audience for jazz, and there are very few people here in general (only 2.7 per square kilometer, to be exact) and they're concentrated mostly at the south and north of the island, which means you kind of have to get on an airplane to do it.
But we did it! And here is the first of a series of videos from the trip I'll be posting. It's the title track from our album Distilled. This is from the 2nd concert at Hannesarholt in Reykjavik.
A big thanks goes out to Reykjavik Distillery who contributed a tasting of their Crowberry schnapps to each of the concerts.
It's been quite a while since I've performed in Akureyri and even longer since I was in Ísafjörður (with the MIndful quartet!), so it's with much excitement that I announce Icelandic tour dates for my trio.
These are all in celebration of the release of our new album Distilled, which in the last couple of weeks has received glowing reviews in Japan, Denmark, Norway, Italy, the UK, USA, Belgium and Austria. It was also featured on BBC3 and ABC radio in Australia. G'day!
It will kick off in Reykjavik at Hannesarholt, on one of the most beautiful sounding pianos in Iceland. It only seats about 80 people, so we decided to do two concerts there. Also, that way I get to play the piano twice!
The new album is officially released now, and it's already received some flattering reviews. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“probably the brightest of all her releases to date."
— Stephan Moore, JazzWrap
“This could have been mistaken for not only an ECM record, but a very good ECM record."
— S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews
“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."
— Tim Niland, Music and More
Momento, the opening track from Distilled is being played on the BBC 3 tonight on their Late Junction show, and I can only hope that this is the beginning of another warm reception. We were very lucky with the attention our last trio album received, but you never know how these things will go.
After I released Long Pair Bond on 11/11/11, the obvious thing to do would be to release the follow-up trio album on 12/12/12, but we missed that date. It was too close to Christmas anyway. And since there is no 13/13/13 (thank goodness!), Distilled will be released on my wedding anniversary 7/19/13, and it is available for pre-order as of today!
For now, Distilled is only available directly from me via Bandcamp. Both the CD and the download are available for pre-order… and CDs come with a download. When you place your order you will be allowed to download the sample-track only. On the release date (7/19/13) CDs will be mailed out and everyone will be emailed a link to download the album.
In many ways this is a continuation of my last album, Long Pair Bond, which features the same trio: Þorgrímur Jónsson on bass and Scott McLemore on drums. The album consists of 4 of my compositions, 3 by Þorgrímur, 2 by Scott and 1 Paul Motian composition. Plus there are a couple of "Spins" (improvised pieces) which is sort of a continuation from my album The Dream.
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to develop this material in front of wonderful audiences over the past year. Two of the concerts on the west coast were recorded and broadcast, and I'm hoping to post these recordings to give a point of reference for how some tunes mature.
Brrr! We got clobbered with snow in Iceland today and I was hoping to escape it to warm, sunny Washington DC, but it's just as bad there now! Hopefully it won't interfere with our travels.
We were so excited to get the call to be included on the Kennedy Center's Nordic Cool festival, and now to be able to go as the official band of Reykjavik is quite an honor. It's only March and it's already been a heck of a year. We're looking forward to recording another trio album when we get back, but for now please come see us Friday in Washington DC and/or Saturday in Charlottesville if you have skis or a toboggan. Details are here.