Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

225

Sunna Gunnlaugs: Long Pair Bond

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
With Long Pair Bond, Sunna Gunnlaugs returns to the piano trio format last heard on Far Far Away. Since that 1997 self-titled debut—the only album to use her tongue-twisting full name, Gunnlaugsdóttir—the Icelandic pianist has, in addition to contracting her name to the eminently more memorable Gunnlaugs, recorded almost exclusively with quartets, largely populated with American (or, at least, American-resident) musicians met after moving to the United States in 1993 to study at William Paterson College. Long Pair Bond's return to trio format is, however, just one of a number of significant changes afoot since Gunnlaugs released The Dream (Self Produced) in 2010.

Returning to Iceland, Gunnlaugs still collaborates with husband/drummer Scott McLemore—the only constant across all seven of her recordings including 2003's fiery Live in Europe (Sunny Sky)— but shifts to local talent for the bass chair. Þorgrímur "Toggi" Jónsson may be a lesser-known entity when compared to past bassists including Drew Gress and Eivind Opsvik, but based on his performance here he's clearly someone to watch, with his flexible blend of firm-planted anchor and inventive melodic foil. On his sole compositional contribution, the folkloric "Fyrir Brynhildi"—which introduces a hint of optimism at the end of each pass with a brief major chord, before returning to its melancholic, minor tonal center—his warm-toned pizzicato drives both the melody and a solo that matches Gunnlaugs' own lyrical bent, though he proves equally capable of more angular playing on the pianist's harmonically oblique "Thema."

Long Pair Bond also signals a shift away from more complex compositional constructs, though Gunnlaugs still favors mixing up the meters, twisting her own "Autumnal," ever-so-slightly through occasional dropped beats. McLemore's three contributions lean more to the straightforward, with both "Elsabella" and the more up-tempo "Not What But How" in waltz-time, but even when he resorts to irregular time signatures, as he does on "Safe From the World," it never distracts from the song's gentle, easy-on-the-ears nature.

Gunnluags' touchstones are unmistakable, with hints of Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, but filtered through her unmistakable allegiance to Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson's classically informed and harmonically skewed melodism. But the barely forty-something pianist also looks beyond these touchstones for inspiration, delivering a relatively straightforward version of alt-rock singer/songwriter Ben Harper's "Diamonds on the Inside" and a less faithful look at Rufus Wainwright's "Vicious World," which may challenge even the biggest meter-o-phile to "find the one," but remains paradoxically delicate and singable.

Throughout, McLemore's touch is light—not unlike Norwegian drummer Jarle Vespestad's work with pianist Tord Gustavsen, employing a variety of sticks for textural effect—while Gunnlaug's is firm yet pliant, moving from fragile vulnerability to robust power on her opening title track. Gunnlaugs has always been about musical depth that doesn't sacrifice inherent accessibility, but by trimming back to a trio, she's delivered one of her most approachable albums yet, where there's no shortage of challenge—but that's largely left to the players. For everyone else, Long Pair Bond's 50 minutes pass by with ease, but not without leaving a lasting impression.

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

Title: Long Pair Bond | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Sunny Sky


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Celebrating William Parker at 65 CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating William Parker at 65
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Eternal Life CD/LP/Track Review Eternal Life
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Right Up On" CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Juxtaposition" CD/LP/Track Review Juxtaposition
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Meet Me At Minton's" CD/LP/Track Review Meet Me At Minton's
by James Nadal
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Thick As Thieves" CD/LP/Track Review Thick As Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik" CD/LP/Track Review Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "The Wishing Stones" CD/LP/Track Review The Wishing Stones
by John Kelman
Published: November 28, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!