Samúel Jón Samúelsson

Samúel Jón Samúelsson is no stranger to Reykjavik's tight-knit music scene. The graduate of the Jazz Music Academy is very active and successful in Iceland: he has received the Icelandic Music Award and founded two bands: Jagúar in 2000 and the Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band, an 18-member formation, in 2006. »I see my music as a big tree from which the branches of jazz, blues, funk and Afrobeat grow«, explains Samúel Jón Samúelsson and continues: »All styles of music are closely connected. A big band and Afrobeat have so much in common, so it's just natural to play this genre.« Sammi - as Samúelsson is called - has important role models: the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, who died in 1997, and his drummer Tony Allen. The young Icelandic artist is so fascinated by Afrobeat that he followed Fela Kuti's example and started his own big band in Reykjavik. Musically, he takes Fela Kuti's and Tony Allen's creations as a starting point for his own compositions. Samúel Jón Samúelsson has talent and a vision. He knows exactly how to realise his musical ideas. And he has a lot of musical support for that. Reykjavik has a rather small music scene. »We are one big family«, Sammi explains. »There are over 200 musicians active here. We help each other out and are not afraid of genre transgressions. It happens that one of us plays in the theatre one day, then performs in a punk formation and switches to classical or electronic sounds the next day.« Both reticence and competitiveness are uncommon in Reykjavik. What counts is both the shared fun of creating and the result. Sometimes Sammi's 18-member band is joined by another five to ten musicians, simply because they feel like making music together: ideal conditions for new projects.