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Ingi Bjarni Skúlason: Farfuglar

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Ingi Bjarni Skúlason: Farfuglar
Appropriately enough for an album on NXN, a subsidiary of classical label Naxos, which only relatively recently diversified into jazz, the Icelandic pianist Ingi Bjarni Skúlason's Farfuglar spans both traditions. Is it classical? Is it jazz? Both? Neither? Check the YouTube below and decide for yourself.

Whatever it may be, Skúlason's music is definitely cerebral, a quality which it shares, perhaps coincidentally, but probably not, with other releases on NXN. One thinks in particular of Norwegian saxophonist Anders Lønne Grønseth's absorbing Outer View (2022) and Inner View (2023), on which Grønseth sets out to reforge the overarching theoretical construct of his music much as George Russell did with his Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization or, more recently, the New York-based saxophonist Oded Tzur has done with his Middle Path. Skúlason has yet to articulate his aesthetic as ambitiously as Russell or Tzur, but stay tuned.

On Farfuglar, Skúlason leads a quintet composed of the same musicians with whom he recorded the similarly cross-border album Tenging (Connection, 2019): Norwegian trumpeter Jakob Eri Myhre, Estonian guitarist Merje Kägu, Swedish double bassist Daniel Andersson and Norwegian drummer Tore Ljøkelsøy. Unlike most "jazz," but like most "classical," much of the recorded material was scored: the liner credits say that all nine tracks were composed by Skúlason and arranged by the quintet. The tunes are spasmodic yet lyrical and characterized by themes and sub-themes which are passed back and forth between piano, guitar and trumpet, or played consecutively in unison by different pairings of those three instruments. There is little extended improvisation and, much of the time, little swing. But the end result is strangely compelling.

Track Listing

Þýðing, Bjögun á dögun, Það sem er, When Holiday Really Begins, Farfuglar, Knowing Without Knowing, Að fljúga, Loftin blá, Mamma engill.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Farfuglar | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: NXN Recordings


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