Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock were early influences on the Icelander Bjarni. However, it is Bill Evans’ name which comes most immediately to mind when one tries to give some initial indication of how this intriguingly gifted pianist has for some time shown an impressive ability to shape his own world, his own patiently evolving poetics.
Here, Bjarni teams up with sympathetic youthful souls from Norway (Myhre and Ljøkelsøy), Estonia (Kägu) and Sweden (Andersson) to create a suite of genre-bridging music of captivating poetic ambience, rooted in an overall subtlety of melodic figure and rhythmic interaction.
The Icelandic album title translates as “connection” and it seems to me that the ultimate connection here is supplied by silence. “The vase gives form to the void, as music does to silence”, observed Braque. Such gnomic wisdom would seem to be shared by Bjarni and his cohorts: sample, especially, the mysterious, patiently limned passages of the title track or the development of Kannski blues.
There is plenty of fine playing here, with Myhre at times bringing to mind Mathias Eick in assertive mode (as in the development of Tenging) and Kägu conjuring a deep and dark blue mood at the beginning of Angurvart before later duetting with Myhre to distilled and potent effect.
But the overall magic of this music – and there is considerable magic here – lies less in the clipped, funky and up phrases of Falin Lagtina, for example, than it does in the floating overtones and indeterminate rhythmic figures which distinguish the ostensibly modest solo piano meditation that is the concluding Ekki Bjodlag, Ekki Jazz (“Not a folk song, not jazz”, as Adrian Pallant has it in his informative sleeve-note).
A distinctive and rewarding album, which impresses more and more with each hearing.
Ja I Dag; Kannski Blus; Ballad For My Fearless Friend; A Sunnudegi; Tenging; Angurvart; Falin Lagtina; Ekki Bjodlag, Ekki Jazz (41.56)
Ingi Bjarni Skulason (p); Jakob Eri Myhre (t); Merje Kägu (elg, g); Daniel Andersson (b); Tore Ljøkelsøy (d). Gothenburg, October 2018.
Losen Records LOS 222-2