Ingi Bjarni Skúlason is a pianist/composer of considerable distinction and finesse, creatively seeking to shun boundaries in style or genre. Across our forever-united European musical landscape, he builds collaborations that challenge and excite, including projects with friends and colleagues in the Scandinavian countries he has lived in and whose open, artistic culture is closely entwined with that of his Icelandic homeland. This singular musician’s focus produces original works which, while informed by jazz tradition, Nordic folksong and electronica, rise up from a wellspring of meticulously-shaped imaginings – ideas inspired by relentlessly searching improvisation, as well as the people he interacts with in daily life, and also the wonders of the natural environment.
Embracing the infinitely explorable world of the classic jazz piano trio, Skúlason’s first two major albums – Skarkali (2015) and Fundur (2018) – invited listeners into a realm of spacial freedom and vibrant expression; and latest recording Tenging expands horizons further with a sparkling quintet (trumpet, guitar, piano, bass and drums) which weaves even greater textures and possibilities into his increasing musical vision.
Intuition is uppermost in the pianist’s quest: “The excitement is in not really knowing! So rather than intentionally sitting down to compose, I investigate ideas and improvise at length. I might sing whatever comes into my mind at that moment, and play it simultaneously at the piano; or I may focus on a strong rhythm or examine a limited idea – maybe only an interval or two – and improvise on that. These beginnings are then shaped and refined by me, or in conjunction with the ensemble I’m currently working with. ‘Music’ is already here, it’s just like a waterfall – and our creativity depends on how much we lean ourselves into it.”