Sunna Gunnlaugs

Inspiration, Call and Response.

November 18, 2010 10:27 am | Filed under: Music | Comments (1)
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Inspiration is an interesting thing. You could say it is a kind of a call and response… like jazz. Or maybe jazz is inspiration. At least the best performances are when the performer is the most inspired. So what inspires us? What causes that chemical reaction in our brain that opens up the channel for endless ideas? (read more…)

The Intrigue of Jazz Division

November 18, 2009 10:41 pm | Filed under: Music | Comments (0)
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Lately, I have had the good fortune of being featured on other people's blogs. Trumpeter Jason Parker from Seattle is an active blogger who features other musicians every Friday and calls it Makin' it Happen. Well last Friday he was kind enough to feature yours truly, which you can read here.

Slightly further to the north, Ottawa-based reviewer Peter Hum just posted a review of my album "Songs from Iceland" on his jazzblog.ca where he calls it "… a warm, satisfying blend of rigor and freedom." You can read that here and leave comments too.

Interestingly both Parker and Hum bring up my catchphrase "bridging the Brooklyn-Reykjavik jazz divide with European elegance and a fiery New York drive." This was actually a homework assignment for a course I took (read more…)

Happy Birthday Thelonious

October 13, 2009 12:28 am | Filed under: Music | Comments (4)
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Saturday was the birthday of pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) so I wanted to write a little something in his honor. First and foremost, he was unusual, and the uniqueness and peculiarities of Monk's personality were perfectly reflected in his music. This is partially the secret to his success. He put so much of himself into how he played, and the tunes he wrote that as a listener you can't help but feel some sense of kinship with him. He put himself out there as an artist, naked. He wasn't polished technically, but he was advanced in his own way. His melodies are very angular and rhythmic but catchy at the same time. Some are incredibly simple. Some deceptively so. His own sound on the piano was a bit square and clunky, but in a charming way. Most composers are very loyal to their tunes but Monk was one of few who might change his own tunes a bit from gig to gig. (read more…)

Solo Piano

September 11, 2009 8:50 am | Filed under: Music | Comments (3)
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This year I was asked to give a solo piano performance at the Reykjavik Jazz Festival with rather short notice. I had never given a solo concert before besides the occasional cocktail gig, and so to me it was a welcomed challenge.

In search of inspiration I listened to three pianists playing solo. All of them have a very personal approach. Bill Evans, not concerned with walking bass or playing stride says it all with his beautiful chords; Django Bates walks, strides and paints with nuttiness on Autumn Fires (And Green Shoots); and Keith Jarrett gets these incredible grooves happening on the Sun Bear Concerts. Well, as Jarrett says on Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, after playing so much with a rhythm section the left hand is almost like an appendage for jazz pianists.

Having this performance coming up (and in the company of 4 other fine Icelandic jazz pianists, I might add: Agnar Már Magnússon, Árni Heiðar Karlsson, Eythor Gunnarsson and Davið Þór Jónsson) was a good kick in the you-know-what to start giving that left hand some T.L.C.
It would probably have been easier to play a standard, the standard way, but I wanted to present a personal approach so I played two tunes of mine and one interpretation of a folk song. Now I am fascinated by the art of playing solo piano and plan to develop it more. Here's a video of 'A Garden Someday' from that performance:

Other solo piano albums that I love include (read more…)