PALSSON, Joel: PrÃm (Joel Palsson/ Mike Nock) (Naxos Jazz: 8.6049-2)
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About JÓEL PÁLSSON Jóel Pálsson is about to do for jazz what Bjork did for Icelandic pop! The young saxophonist spearheads the jazz scene in the tiny North Atlantic country. Now, with the release of his solo debut, Prím, he is single-handedly putting Iceland on the jazz map with an energetic and polished bop session that stands up to any new recording anywhere.
Besides composing every track but one (an old Icelandic folk song named 'Mother Says') on his first CD, Pálsson and his Icelandic cohorts play with the vigor of Vikings. His tone is assured and polished, the arrangements are contemporary and effortless sounding, and the group exudes a sophistication that would make them stand out even on a New York club stage.
With Prím, which translates roughly as 'primal,' Pálsson becomes Iceland's first jazz star to be released internationally. Born in Reyjavík, Iceland, in 1972, Pálsson started studying clarinet at the age of 9 before turning to the saxophone at 15. In 1992, he enrolled at the Berklee College of Music (where he received the BEST-scholarship) and studied with players like George Garzone and Bill Pierce. He graduated in 1994 with the highest honors (Summa Cum Laude).
Returning to Iceland, Pálsson then started working appearing on over 30 albums with Iceland's most prominent artists in jazz and popular music. He has been nominated for Best Wind Player three years running at the Icelandic Music awards.
The CD has received nothing but praise and acclaim from European critics. At home, the DV (Icelandic Daily) says, "without doubt, one of the best jazz recordings that have been produced in this country." Danish music writer, Boris Rabinowitsch (Politiken) calls the album, "a revelation." He goes and describes Pálsson's "expressive tone, that in its richness can't escape stealing one¡¦s heart." Even Influential online jazz magazine AllAboutJazz.com comments, "...There is nothing straight-ahead stylistically about this disc. The music is all very angular and inventive and very enjoyable listening."
So do yourself a favor and check it out. This is a cool artist from a cool place.