KURAN SWING (Iceland, 1992)
I'm always curious about music from exotic places, especially if it is jazz-oriented. I've posted Jazz albums from Fiji Islands, Mauritius, Faroes, New Zealand ... This one is from Iceland. I found the CD in the discount bin of a second-hand records shop in Brussels in the 90s. I must confess that I did not know anything about the Icelandic jazz scene.
I was intrigued by this album. Moreover I ‘m always drawn to albums by musicians with unpronounceable names. If you want to impress your mates in any conversation about obscure musicians just drop the names of Bjorn Thoroddsen or Olafur Poroarson between some dithyrambic ravings about Zbyniew Namyloswski or Joel Vandroogenbroeck.(an easy one if you're flemish or brusseleir).
There isn’t anything revolutionary about the music, jazzy folk rather than straight jazz. I wouldn’t call it Gypsy Jazz (although the influence is obvious). Still it’s fairly original within the genre as it avoids the usual clichés of gypsy swing and the “look how fast I can play” syndrome.
The overall feel is often closer to country jazz than gypsy jazz as the band uses instruments more commonly heard in country / western swing (mandolin, dobro, banjo) than in jazz.
All the songs are original composition by the band members. It gives the album a “fraicheur” and originality not always found in a style too often plagued by clichés and a repetitive repertoire (If I want to hear Minor Swing, I listen to Django ... who need another version?).
Jazzy, folksy with country and eastern European flavors. If that's your cup of tea, give it a try.