How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Several songs on Icelandic pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs' Long Pair Bond, including the ballad "Elsabella," are lilting and beautiful enough to have an almost hypnotic effect. The interplay between Gunnlaugs and bassist Þorgrímur Jónsson is clearly borne out of a great deal of time spent working together. Along with drummer Scott McLemore
, who contributed three compositions to this session, the group plays with an empathy for which jazz ensembles strive, especially important in trios such as this.
Gunnlaugs has a special knack for writing gospel-tinged and pop- influenced tunes where a sparse harmonic center serves to buoy lilting melodies played with a light touch. It is easy to get lost in this music, which possesses plenty of room for improvising but, much like the album's general mood and tempo, travels along a fairly set course. There are no pyrotechnics, displays of technical virtuosity, or emotional outbursts from any of the players. Gunnlaugs spent a decade living and playing in Brooklyn, but Long Pair Bond reflects more of a cool, melancholy and Scandinavian mood.
Gunnlaugs adapts two pieces from the world of pop. As a child, she was more attracted to organ than piano, and it's easy to hear why in her soulful and playful approach to the trio's delightful reading of Ben Harper's "Diamonds on the Inside." Rufus Wainwright's "Vicious World" closes out the record on a suitable note, offering a microcosm of the entire session. With a lovely melody, the wistful playing is beautiful to hear, but perhaps could use a shout or roar here and there.
Track Listing: Long Pair Bond; Thema; Autumnalia; Elsabella; Crab Cannon;
Fyrir Brynhildi; Safe From The World; Diamonds on the Inside; Not
What But How; Vicious World
Personnel: Sunna Gunnlaugs: piano; Þorgrímur Jónsson: bass; Scott McLemore: drums