Jón Rafnsson – Bass
Þórður Árnason – Guitar
Gunnar Þórðarson – Guitar
Guitar Islancio was formed in 1998 by Björn Thoroddsen and Gunnar Thordarson and has since then performed across the globe, headlining concerts both in Iceland as well as in Scandinavia, mainland Europe, North-America and Asia.
The trio has released five albums, four of which contain jazzed-up versions of Icelandic folk songs. The album “Scandinavian Songs” also includes music from all the Nordic countries, The Faroe Islands and Greenland. “Connections” came out in Canada in 2001. It has 15 songs that are all on the trio’s first three CDs. This CD brings in a new sound because the Icelandic-Canadian trumpet player Richard Gillis plays with the trio.
The disc was released in Iceland in 2005 as “Icelandic Folk”.
All five albums have been critically acclaimed and have received bestseller status in Iceland.In the fall of 2010, Guitar Islancio released a Best of album, containing 14 favorites from the older albums, as well as a brand new recording of Björn Thoroddsen’s Tango, which was originally included on “Guitar Islancio II”.
The CD “Þjóðlög – Folksongs” came out in 2017. It has 14 songs from the trio’s previous CDs. In addition, it has a previously unreleased version of “Á Sprengisandi – “Riding over the Desert” by Sigvaldi Kaldalóns. 2019 saw the publication of “Icelandic Folksongs, Arranged by Guitar Islancio”. It provides sheet music for 22 folksongs with chord diagrams for the guitar and piano, along with various lore about the songs. All the text in the book is in Icelandic, English, and German. A vinyl record with 12 folksongs that have all been released on the trio’s CDs will come out at the start of 2022.
The trio has performed alongside a wide variety of renowned international musicians, including France’s violonist Didier Lockwood and guitarist Sylvain Luc; Denmark’s clarinettist Jørgen Svare and violinist Kristian Jørgensen; Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius; Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine; American guitarist Larry Coryell and Canadian trumpet player Richard Gillis – who is also featured on the album “Icelandic Folk” (released in Canada as “Connections”).
At concerts, the trio’s program is an entertaining mix of original material, Icelandic folk songs and jazz standards. The trio is famous for its powerful and lively performances and as such, it truly lives up to its name: the word Islancio is an Italian musical term and means with dash or with impetuousness. So playing “con islancio” means playing impetuiously. The sound of the word is also undeniably reminiscent of Iceland, and so the name is both musical and “Icelandic”.
In both 2000 and 2001, the city of Reykjavík awarded Guitar Islancio with the title of “Official Musical Group of the City”.
Guitarist Thórður Árnason recently filled in for Gunnar Thórðarson, and Árnason will continue playing with the trio. Thórður is a great find for the trio. There is no doubt that he is one of the best guitarists that Iceland has ever produced.