August 6th, 2014
Earshot Jazz presented Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio at the Seattle Art Museum June 28th in a wonderful performance.
From Iceland comes a lyrical pianist with impeccable touch and time who, as The Washington Post said, “elegantly bridges soul-searching passages with uncluttered swing.” Three highly praised albums into a now-globetrotting career, Sunna demonstrates qualities that keep that lifestyle pleasurable: Her work is contemplative and unhurried, and yet fully capable of evoking great emotion and tension in her spacing and intonation. She counts as her influences the likes of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett – the former echoes in her touch, the latter in a yearning lyricism – as well as Scandinavians like Bobo Stenson and Jon Balke. Like the last two, her accomplishment is in imbuing drama and feeling into measured playing, as well as relating a complexity of soul and spirit in glimmers as if through a drawn-out far-Northern gloaming. She has steeped her responses in both schools. After coming to the U.S. in 1993 to attend William Paterson, Sunna ventured to close-by New York City. There she eventually teamed with the likes of saxophonist Tony Malaby and bassist Drew Gress. She wins high praise for a style at once highly personal and compellingly inclusive of her audiences. She interpreted her repertoire with truly accomplished trio-mates, fellow Icelander Thorgrimur Jónsson on bass, and her and long-time collaborator (and husband) Scott McLemore on drums.