Iceland continuously supplies the world with refined musicians workings in all kinds of genres. The piano player Sunna Gunnlaugs and her popular trio, who have travelled all over Europe, United States and Canada, are the best proof of the hypothesis that Icelandic jazz feeds from the same clear wellspring of fantasy as the avant garde pop of Bjork and Emiliana Torrini.
Gunnlaugs grew up in a small town of Seltjarnarnes, not far from Reykjavík, and her musical journey began with organ lessons. “When I was little, I associated the grand piano with the classical piano players, who, it seemed to me, derived no pleasure from their performance, - Sunna Gunnlaugs says with a smile. - You can play whatever you want on an organ — polkas, The Beatles, and Strauss’ waltzes — and they will all sound amusing.” The young Icelander’s mind was changed when she heard a record of Bill Evans trio and fell in love with jazz.
In 1993, Sunna Gunnlaugs went to New York to perfect her piano technique and learn the art of jazz. She went to the legendary Manhattan jazz clubs, where she listened to the famous musicians jam, and she began to compose and improvise. Following her move to Brooklyn, she composed her first album Far Far Away, which came out in 1996. It was recorded with the help of her future husband, drummer Scott McLemore. After returning to Iceland and making a name for herself on the local jazz scene, the pianist and composer didn’t break her intrinsic ties to New York, and today Sunna Gunnlaugs’ music combines European elegance with New York drive.
Today, the musician’s portfolio includes close to 10 studio albums that have garnered admiring reviews of respected jazz publications, from All About Jazz to Downbeat. Her trio, which also includes drummer Scott McLemore and bass player Þorgrímur Jónsson, plays the role of Icelandic jazz ambassadors in the lineups of the European and American clubs and international festivals. The signature style of Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio, which alternates romantic lyricism of melodies with exciting swing, captivates both the jazz afficionados, and the neophyte fans.
SOUND UP continues to explore the music of Iceland. Following last year’s Russian-Icelandic musical collaboration Creative Lab, SOUND UP’s June concert will introduce a group of other performers from this fairy-tale island.
Coincidentally, “SOUND UP Iceland” will take place on June 15, a day before the first match that the Icelandic football team will play at the FIFA World Cup. This is why we expect the whole of Moscow’s Icelandic community to be present at the concert, to listen to the enchanting sounds that remind them of homeland, and to invoke the victory of their footballers, who had astonished the world at the latest European championship.
The event is organized with support of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Iceland.
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