Reykjavik Jazz Festival: 12-16 August 2015

The Reykjavik Jazz Festival is dedicated to presenting the best in Icelandic Music and to connecting it with the international music scene.

The Reykjavík Jazz Festival, a member of the Europe Jazz Network, takes place in Iceland August 12-16, 2015 with close to 100 artists performing 20 concerts. Approximately third of the artists are foreign guests coming from Norway, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Italy and Lithuania with special attention give to women in jazz in celebration of the 100 anniversary of women’s right to vote in Iceland.

Check the complete programme below.

More information:

Prelude – Tuesday August 11th 2015

18:00 Bíó Paradís              The Latin Viking – Premier

A documentary film about Tomas R. Einarsson

Award-winning Icelandic bass player and songwriter Tomas R. Einarsson is already well-known in his home country, mostly for his Latin music. In “The Latin Viking” we get to know the man behind the double bass and the music, and how it came about that this country boy from the west of Iceland embarked on a musical journey that took him all the way to Havana, Cuba, to finally return home to the sub-arctic valley of his childhood, bringing back a hot and colourful Latin feast.

Director: Jón Karl Helgason, Producer: Sigurður G. Valgeirsson

Day 1 – Wednesday August 12th 2015

17:00 Lucky Records        Jazz parade to Harpa concert hall (from Hlemmur down Laugavegur)

17:45 Budvar stage         Opening ceremony for Reykjavik Jazz festival

19:00 Silfurberg                The House sleeps – New release

Leifur Gunarsson belongs to the upcoming generation of Icelandic jazz musicians. He is releasing his first album as a leader on this occasion, called Húsið sefur (“The House Sleeps”). The music for the album is all written to and inspired by Icelandic poetry and is based on his Copenhagen years. The music is best described as lyric and melancholic jazz with folk influences.

Leifur Gunnarsson (double bass)
Agnar Már Magnússon (piano)
Matthías Hemstock (drums)
Ingrid Örk Kjartansdóttir (voice)
Haukur Gröndal (saxophone, clarinet)
Snorri Sigurðsson (trumpet)

20:00 Norðurljós              Monica Zetterlund – A tribute concert

The jazz group called “23/8” consists of singer Stina Agustsdottir, pianist Anna Greta Sigurdardottir and Leo Lindberg on bass. Their earlier performance honouring Monica Zetterlund, at the Nordic House this January, was a hit and completely sold out! Here’s the chance for those who missed out.

Monica Zetterlund was a jazz singer who became popular during the late 1950’s in Sweden. She performed with the likes of Thad jones, Bill Evans and Louis Armstrong, but also made a name for herself as an actress in her home country Sweden.

The group will perform songs made popular by Monica Zetterlund during her career, songs that were written for her as well as other known jazz standards performed in English, Swedish and Icelandic.

Stína Ágústsdóttir (voice)
Anna Gréta Sigurðardóttir (piano)
Leo Lindberg (double bass)
Erik Qvick (drums)

20:00 Silfurberg                Nordic Dialogues

Nordic Dialogues is a Pan-Scandinavian collaboration between Finnish saxophonist Joakim Berghäll and pianists Árni Karlsson and Joona Toivanen, based on Berghäll’s widely praised debut album “Dialogues I” (2013).

Joakim Berghäll, one of Finland’s most talented and internationally recognised improvisers, is a Helsinki-based saxophone player and composer born in 1980. “He is a master of all the reeds.” (Jazz Weekly). As a composer he creates music that is strongly influenced by Finnish folk tradition and at the same time harmonically rich, melodically diverse and emotionally compelling.

Árni Karlsson has been an active member of the Icelandic jazz scene for two decades as a pianist and composer in various musical styles, from jazz and classical to pop, rock and house. His last album, Hold, was selected Album of the Year 2014 by New York jazzsite The Jazz Wrap.

“Beautiful music, full of emotion, expressive depth, colourful harmonies and beautiful Nordic melodies.” SKJazz

Joona Toivanen is a talented Finnish pianist based in Gothenburg, Sweden. His current musical projects include solo work, and the Nordic quartet Jazz & Fly Fishing.

Joakim Berghall (Saxophones)
Árni Heiðar Karlsson (piano)
Joona Toivanen (piano)

21:00 Norðurljós              Kekko Fornarelli Trio

A true Italian masterpiece! Kekko Fornarelli leads his trio trough his original music and follows up on the release of his latest album “Outrush” (2014). The music of Outrush has been described as an escape inside his own world. A complexity able to hit the audience straight in the heart and the stomach, before touching the mind. An alchemy between the musicians that carries jazz out of its borders.

Kekko has in the last years earned reputation on the international stage, and is referred to as the rising star of Italian jazz.  He tours extensively and is a frequent guest at Europe’s leading jazz festivals.

This concert is made possible by generous support from Puglia Sounds

Kekko Fornarelli (piano and keyboard)
Giorgio Vendola (double bass)
Dario Congedo (drums and percussion)

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22:00 Silfurberg                Mógil

Mógil is an Iceland-based band whose music blends folk, classical, minimal and post-rock into a universe that is completely their own. The lyrics are inspired by Icelandic folklore and current events and tell the emotional stories of humans and mermen alike.

The world of Mógil is atmospheric, intimate and mysterious. It is always warm, be it from the midnight sun in summertime or the blaze of a fireplace in wintertime. The tension between the crystal-clear soprano and the very contemporary accompaniment together make for a timeless sound that knows no borders.

Mógil has performed at Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavík Jazz Festival and WOMEX  World Festival and done several tours of Northern Europe. They released the album “Ró” in 2008, followed by “Í stillunni hljómar” in 2011, with a new album upcoming in 2016. Their music has been called “exquisite from beginning to end” (Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC) and proclaimed as “music that touches the soul” (The Silent Ballet, NYC).

Heiða Árnadóttir (voice)
Joachim Badenhorst (clarinet)
Hilmar Jensson (guitar)
Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir (viola)
Eiríkur Orri Ólafsson (trumpet)

23:00 Budvar stage         Jazz jam session

Day 2 – Thursday August 13th 2015

17:00 Budvar stage         Happy hour

Samples of the day’s concerts as well as happy hour at the bar

19:00 Silfurberg                Jónsson & More

Jónsson & More is a trio formed in 2008. The trio plays original music that can be described as a combination of free improvisation and lyrical contemporary jazz. This concert will mark the release of their first album. The trio’s last performance at the Reykjavik Jazzfestival in 2010 was met with rave reviews, so it will be interesting to see how they have progressed since then.

Ólafur Jónsson (tenor saxophone)
Þorgrímur Jónsson (double bass)
Scott McLemore (drums)


20:00 Silfurberg                Ásgeir Ásgeirsson Trio with guests

Ásgeir has been one of the most prominent and versatile guitarist in Iceland for many years, performing all kinds of music, from pop, rock, jazz and world music. Asgeir will celebrate the release of his second solo album, Trio.

On this record Asgeir has written music especially for the many jazz trios he has been a part of during the recent years and on the record he has four different trios performing his music. The music can best be described as a traditional jazz music and covers many different styles within jazz, spanning from bossa nova to funk to old jazz.

At this release concert Asgeir will perform with a jazz trio and guest artists.

Ásgeir Ásgeirsson (guitar)
Þórður Högnason og Gunnar Hrafnsson(double bass)
Erik Qvick (drums)
Ólafur Hólm (drums)

Stefanía Svavarsdóttir og Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson (voice)
Haukur Gröndal (saxophone)
Snorri Sigurðarsson (flugelhorn)
Karl Olgeirsson (piano and organ)

21:00 Norðurljós              Brotherhood – Tómas R. and Ómar Guðjónsson

Guitarist Ómar Guðjónsson and bassist Tómas R. Einarsson have been playing together for a decade. They have performed together, as a duo and in numerous other settings, in ten countries. Now, an old dream has become a reality: a record where they compose for each other. The musical conversation is the most important goal, whatever the groove – swing, latin or slow ballads.

Tómas R. Einarsson (double bass)
Ómar Guðjónsson (guitar)

22:00 Silfurberg              Niescier/Jensson/McLemore

Award winning German alto saxophonist Angelika Niescier is well known in Europe for her bands Sublim and Trio NOW. This is her second appearance in Iceland as part of this collective trio with drummer Scott McLemore and guitarist Hilmar Jensson. All three musicians contribute compositionally and subtly pull the trio in different directions with their interpretations of each other’s pieces. The music, which balances angular melodies, floating ballads and free improvisation, will be released on a CD at this concert.

Angelika Niescier (saxophone)
Scott McLemore (drums)
Hilmar Jensson (guitar)

23:00 Budvar stage         Jazz jam session

Day 3 – Friday August 14th 2015

17:00 Budvar stage         Happy hour

Samples of the day’s concerts as well as happy hour at the bar

19:00 Norðurljós              Sunnu Gunnlaugs Trio

Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio is among the most prominent Icelandic jazz groups on the international scene. In recent years they have toured extensively in Europe, the US and Canada. The trio draws on their collective experiences having lived abroad (whether in NYC or Holland) and returning to Iceland to develop a musical approach which draws listeners in with beautiful melodies and challenges them with intricate forms and free improvisation.

Sunna Gunnlaugs (piano)
Scott McLemore (drums)
Þorgrímur Jónsson (double bass)

20:00 Silfurberg                Projeto Brazil! – Sigurður Flosason and Hans Olding

Projeto Brazil is a collaboration of Icelandic saxophonist Sigurður Flosason and Swedish guitarist Hans Olding. They have arranged Brazilian music for an interestingly assembled international quintet. The music is by some of the best known Brazilian composers, classic Brazilian music such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Viniciius de Moraes and Nascimento.

This concert is made possible by support from the Swedish-Icelandic cooperation fund

Sigurður Flosason (saxophones and flutes)
Hans Olding (guitar)
Þorgrímur Jónsson (double bass)
Þórdís Gerður Jónsdóttir (cello)
Ola Bothzén (drums)

21:00 Norðurljós              Boom Tic Boom – Allison Miller

NYC-based drummer Allison Miller gathers inspiration from a wide array of genres. Coming from the Jazz tradition, she engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility,

Allison has been named “Rising Star Drummer” and “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine’s acclaimed Critics Poll. Her band, Boom Tic Boom, is a 2014 recipient of Chamber Music America’s “Presenter Consortium for Jazz Grant” and is proudly sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.

This concert is made possible by generous support from the US Embassy in Iceland.

Allison Miller (drums)
Carmen Staaf (piano)
Jenny Scheinman (violin)
Todd Sickafoose (double bass)


22:00 Silfurberg                Sons of Gíslason

Bassist Freysteinn Gíslason represents the younger generation of jazz players in Iceland. Here he leads a quartet performing his original music that is both energetic and playful. The members are all studying at the Royal Conservatoire in the Haag Netherlands and have been playing together for two years.

Freysteinn Gíslason (double bass)
Ingi Bjarni Skúlason (piano)
Manvydas Pratkelis (saxophone)
Augustas Baronas (drums)

23:00 Budwar stage         Jazz jam session

Day 4 – Saturday August 15th 2015

11:00 Kaldalón                  Masterclass – Strings in improvised music.

A masterclass with Jenny Scheinman.

12:00 Kaldalón                  Masterclass – Drums

Masterclass with drummer Allison Miller

15:00 Budvar stage         Gaukur Hraundal and co – a family concert

Saxophone player Haukur Grondal shows us his alter-ego, “Gaukur Hraundal”. Gaukur likes to improvise and he likes the kindergarten tunes! With these two elements at hand he’ll take us on a fun journey. This concert is aimed at young listeners so mom, dad, grandma and grandpa grab your coat and get your hat and take the little ones to Harpa! The show takes about 30 minutes and admission is free. If you don’t have a child of your own, then borrow one!

Haukur Gröndal (woodwind)
Pétur Grétarsson (percussion)
Gunnar Hilmarsson (guitar)
Leifur Gunnarsson (bass)

16:00 Budvar stage         Happy hour – Jazz’n swing with the Reykjavík Swing Syndicate

The Reykjavik Swing Syndicate has carried the torch for traditional swing in Iceland for quite some time. This event is guaranteed to get your toes tapping and put a smile on your face.

Free admission

Gunnar Himarsson (guitar)
Jóhann Guðmundsson (guitar)
Leifur Gunnarsson (double bass)
Haukur Gröndal (saxophone, clarinet)

20:00 Silfurberg                Reykjavík Big Band performs the music of Helge Sunde

The Reykjavik Big Band presents, as its guest for this year’s festival, Norwegian composer, trombonist and conductor Helge Sunde. Helge has won numerous awards for his big band compositions and recordings. Helge is an active composer who writes not only for big band, but also symphonic works and chamber music. He is frequently hired internationally as a guest conductor to conduct his music. Helge Sunde runs the renowned Ensembe Denada in Norway. He is a professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music.

Helge Sunde (conductor, composer)
Reykjavik Bid Band

21:00 Norðurljós              Mathias Eick Quintet

Trumpeter Mathias Eick is a leading musician in his home country Norway and one of the stars of the renowned ECM label.  On his latest release, Midwest, Mathias Eick pays tribute to the North American Midwest in an album of intensely melodic compositions which reflect thematically upon journeys and homecomings both literal and spiritual.

The album Midwest was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. This is Mathias Eick’s third ECM album as a leader, following on from The Door (recorded 2007), and Skala (recorded 2009-2010).

Throughout, the compositions and the overarching concept provide an optimal context for the special qualities of Eick’s trumpet soloing – the strong yet melancholy-tinged singing tone, by now immediately identifiable, in this case yearning for home.

The line-up includes some of Norway´s finest musicians:

Mathias Eick (trumpet)
Torstein Lofthus (drums)
Håkon Aase (violin)
Audun Erlien (guitar and bass)
Andreas Ulvo (piano)

22:00 Silfurberg                ASA Trio

Since 2005 ASA Trio has been preforming in Iceland and abroad and have become known for their unique interpretations of music by the likes of Fiona Apple, Ray Charles, John Coltrane and Theolonious Monk.

The instrumentation of the organ trio lends itself to fresh perspectives on well-known material, but on their new album, Craning, they play exclusively their own compositions. The set is decidedly diverse with pieces ranging from a sweet country ballad to a Devo-ish punk tune to modern jazz workouts in odd meters, all the while coexisting under the same sonic umbrella.

Agnar Már Magnússon (organ)
Scott McLemore (drums)
Andrés Þór Gunnlaugsson (guitar)

23:00 Norðurljós              Late night world party! – KutiMangoes and Byzantine Silhouette

Based in Copenhagen, the 6-piece afro-beat/soul band has teamed up with fantastic vocalist Patrick Kabré from Burkina Faso for live touring as well as their debut album “Afro-Fire”, released in 2014 on the renowned German funk/afro-beat label Tramp Records. The album has won the Danish Grammy for Best World Music Album 2014 as well as receiving critical acclaim.

The KutiMangoes don’t focus on being highly authentic, but on combining the soul of Fela Kuti and the delusional arrangements from Charles Mingus. Three brass players, two drummers and a man at the keys skilfully switch between the instruments, combined with Patrick Kabré from Burkina Faso, who adds the final dose of feeling to the beats with his voice.

Danish Grammy winner for Best World Music Album 2014. Nominated for 4 Danish Grammys 2014 (world music track, world music album, world music composers, alternative jazz album).

Gustav Rasmussen (trumpet and guitar)
Michael Blicher (saxophone)
Aske Drasbæk (saxophone)
Johannes Buhl (keyboards)
Morten Ærø (drums)
Casper Mikkelsen (percussion)

Byzantine Silhouette
Icelandic world music group Byzantine Silhouette are known for their fiery take on Balkan music. With two CDs out, their last one got a nomination for the Icelandic Music Awards.

The band was founded halfway through the year 2010 and their program consists of Greek, Macedonian, Bulgarian and Turkish songs. The music is a rush of emotion mixed eastern mystery. Asymmetric beats, melodies and virtuosity is woven together to make a fiery cocktail.

Haukur Gröndal (clarinet and saxohones)
Ásgeir Ásgeirsson (guitar)
Þorgrímur Jónsson (bass)
Erik Qvick (drums)


Day 5 – Sunday August 16th 2015

16:00 Norðurljós              Louis Armstrong – Tribute concert

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Louis Armstrong’s legendary visit and only concert in Iceland. This final concert of the Reykjavik Jazz festival will pay tribute to Armstrong’s music and life.

Amongst songs performed will be many of the best known pieces from Louis Armstrong’s career with a special focus on the repertoire of his All-Stars band, from 1947 towards his final concerts in 1971.  In addition, some of his early work, recorded with his bands Hot Five and Hot Seven, will also be performed.

A special guest, Vernharður Linnet, Iceland’s leading jazz historian, will guide concert goers through the life and music of Louis Armstrong.

Snorri Sigurðarson (trumpet)
Haukur Gröndal (saxophone and clarinet)
Samúel Jón Samúelsson (trombone)
Anna Gréta Sigurðardóttir (piano)
Matthías Hemstock (drums)
Tómas R. Einarsson (double bass)

Guest singers:
Sigtryggur Baldursson
Ragnheiður Gröndal