Sunna Gunnlaugs – Long Pair Bond
(Sunny Sky 728. CD Review by Chris Parker)
“Overall serenity … which, like her homeland [Iceland], is disturbed from time to time by unbridled energy bubbling up under the surface” might sound a little fanciful in its essentialism, but it is a pretty accurate description of the trio sound of pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs.
Her robust lyricism is apparent from the opening title-track onwards, throughout an intriguingly varied programme that comprises three vigorously polyrhythmic, slow-building compositions by drummer Scott McLemore, a touching melody dedicated to his daughter from bassist ƥorgrímur Jónsson and a couple of pop songs by Ben Harper and Rufus Wainwright, in addition to the leader’s four multi-hued pieces.
Her playing moves easily and unaffectedly between buoyant, even occasionally gospelly joyousness and spacy, contemplative restraint, sensitively supported by her rhythm section, and all the in-band originals are characterised by musicianly verve and snap; the Harper and Wainwright pieces, however, are perhaps a mite too uncomplicated to stretch such a skilful band. Overall, though, this is an absorbing and powerful album, and it should appeal to admirers of Keith Jarrett and the late, lamented EST alike.