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Icelandic guitarist Andrés Thor titled his fifth solo album after a letter of the ancient Greek alphabet, used since 8th century BC. But his music abstracts the modern jazz syntax of the late decades of the 20th century, in a commanding, personal manner. «Ypsilon» features Thor new international quartet – himself focusing on the electric guitar, fellow-Icelandic pianist Agnar Már Magnússon, Danish double bass player Richard Anderson and American drummer Ari Hoenig. The quartet was recorded in Reykjavik on April 2016, playing Thor original compositions..

Thor compositions tend to follow a distinct course. He articulates the melodic, skeletal theme with a guitar solo that set the atmosphere, most of the time a relaxed, breezy atmosphere. Followed by an emphatic abstraction of the theme by him and Magnússon, both playfully building and releasing the dramatic tension. On these compositions, Thor and Magnússon enjoy the solid rhythmic basis of Anderson and Hoenig that do not attempt to take a more decisive role.

But the most appealing compositions are the ones that suggest a different syntax. The beautiful, touching ballad «Zafón» offers a more balanced interplay, one that benefits from the great rhythmic sensitivity of Anderson and Hoenig. «Snævi» emphasizes the deep, immediate understanding of Thor and Magnússon, both sketching a nuanced, emotional song. The fusion-tinged «Biscuit» employs for the first time the all quartet as a powerful, driving rhythmic unit, with a more urgent guitar solo of Thor.

Eyal Harueveni

Andrés Thor (g), Agnar Már Magnússon (p, elp), Richard Andersson (b), Ari Hoenig (dr)

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