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Joel Palsson: Prim

C. Michael Bailey By

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The Iceman Cometh. Joel Palsson is a 26 year Old Icelandic tenorist who proves that jazz know no boundaries, racial, cultural, or national. His debut disc on the Iceland label Jazzis, Prim. The title is appropriately derived from the Icelandic term for "New Moon" or "Primal." This collection is comprised of nine original compositions plus an arrangement of an Icelandic folk song, "Pad mïlti min mïdir" ("Mother Says").

Pïlsson was born in the famous Reykjavïk, studying clarinet and saxophone in primary school. He continued a traditional education in higher education majoring in both the natural sciences and music. Following graduation in 1992, Palsson enrolled at Berklee, studying with George Garzone and Bill Pierce. He graduated Summa cum Laude in 1994. Well, Mr. Palsson looks pretty good on paper, but does he have any chops?

Did Someone Say Chops?. Palsson has got a friendly tone and performance approach whether he is playing (or composing) a complex Post Bop Head ("Urgur" ["Grump"], Lïgmarks vesen ["No Fuzz"]), a 3/4 ballad ("Hagar-Sund" ["Bus 4"]), straight ballad (Flïs vid rass ["Snug], 7undi himinn ["7th Heaven"]) or the disc's lone blues (Hland fyrir hjartaï ["Matter of Heart"]). There is nothing straight-ahead stylistically about this disc. The music is all very angular and inventive and very enjoyable listening.

Palsson's band is very good also. Highlight players are pianist Eyþïr Gunnarsson and guitarist Hilmar Jensson. His underpinning is provided by the capable Gunnlaugur Gudmunïsson on bass and Einar Scheving and Mattïas Hemstock on drums. The highlights of the disc for me were the upbeat "GISP!" (GASP) and the driving "Skriplaï ï skïtum" (Slippery Slope). I found all of the performances to be top notch and very listenable. Palsson would be a perfect addition to the Naxos Jazz stables with that label's interest in Scandinavian and other Northern European Jazz. An Icelandic Contingency would be a perfect fit.


Track Listing: Urgur (Grump); Hagar-Sund (Bus 4); Fl?s vi? rass (Snug); L?gmarks vesen (No Fuzz); 7undi himinn (7th Heaven); Hland fyrir hjarta? (Matter of Heart); GISP! (GASP!); Skripla? ? sk?tum (Slippery Slope); Bak

Personnel: Joel Palsson: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones; Hilmar Jensson: Guitar; Ey

Title: Prim | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Naxos


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