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.
I did a little experiment on my facebook fanpage last week. I posted a home video of myself playing a composition that I will premier next week and needed a title for. I was really just looking for a title, but when people started to submit their suggestions I realized that everyone was expressing how the tune made them feel. To me that was really neat. I rarely get such direct feedback from listeners. Most of the suggestions had a commonality and many referenced the season. It would be interesting to see how that would change if I had done this in summer. I got so many great suggestions that I really would like to write music with those titles in mind, if there are no objections. (read more…)
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: