AURORA - Bio
Aurora is a newly formed Icelandic jazz quartet put together by bassist Sigmar Matthiasson in 2014. In addition to Matthiasson on double bass, Aurora consists of Helgi R. Heidarsson on tenor saxophone, pianist Tomas Jonsson and Oskar Kjartansson on drums - all young, emerging artists on the Icelandic music scene. The members first met at The F.Í.H. School of Music and have been playing together in various settings for few years. The quartet plays original compositions by all members of the band, music filled with high energy, colorful melodies and odd-meter rhythms. The band gets its name from Iceland's signature northern lights, which are as colorful and unpredictable as Aurora's music.
“It’s a pretty diversified quartet,” says Matthiasson descriptively. “I wanted to put together a band of my young colleagues from Iceland to play my music. They are all great players and the energy and chemistry in the band is very good. The real core foundation is hardcore groove, colorful melodies, instense rhythms and a little bit of avant-garde. Part of that is because Helgi and Tomas are so well-rounded and willing to go to so many places, that I can’t help but want to play my heart out with them and me and Oskar make a great rhythm duo.”
Sigmar Þór Matthíasson, bass.
Sigmar started playing the bass around the age of 15, studying at a local music school called Tónlistarskóli Árbæjar. Later on he studied at the FÍH Music School and graduated from there in 2012. In his last year he was offered a scholarship for his outstanding performance at the school and spent one semester as an exchange-student in Denmark, studying at The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. Today Sigmar is currently furthering his jazz studies at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, USA.
Sigmar has been a very active performer on the Icelandic music scene for few years. Including Nordic folk/jazz group Silfurberg and pop/rock band Hvar er Mjallhvít?, which both have released records in Iceland. In addition, he has performed and/or recorded with many of the most in-demand pop and jazz musicians in Iceland. As well as being an active performer, Sigmar has worked as a music teacher for several years. Now resident in New York City, he is also beginning to make a name for himself out there in the big world of music by performing and recording with artists in the US.
Helgi Rúnar Heiðarsson, tenor saxophone.
Helgi Rúnar is an Icelandic saxophonist who graduated from the Music School of FÍH in Iceland in the year of 2012. He has recorded and performed with many Icelandic and Nordic bands mainly playing jazz and improvised music, including the Reykjavík Big Band, Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band, Orphic Oxtra, Blæti, Eyjafjalla Experience and Skver.
Tómas Jónsson, piano/electronics.
Tómas is one of the most promising young pianists in Iceland today. He graduated from The FÍH School of Music in 2012 and was nominated for the Icelandic Music Prize as the most promising jazz artist that same year. Matthiasson had his eye out for 21-year-old pianist Tomas Jonsson ever since hearing him in a student concert at F.I.H. School of Music a few years back. “I knew who he was but I had never played with him. But when I heard him he floored me. It was amazing hearing a 16-year-old playing with such intensity. Plus he has a deep understanding of the blues,” says Matthiasson. Tómas is one of the most sought-after keyboard players in Iceland in the field of pop, blues and jazz music and has played with bands like Ásgeir Trausti, ADHD, Hjálmar and Fjallabræður.
Óskar Kjartansson, drums.
Drummer Oskar Kjartansson is the final puzzle to the piece: “Oskar and I have a closely formed musical relationship, where we know one another’s time and feel very well,” Matthiasson says. “I love his combination of traditional and free jazz playing.” Óskar started playing drums when he was 12 years old but lost interest for a few years and it wasn't until he discovered jazz that he really started to be interested in playing music. When he was eighteen years old he started his studies in the FÍH Music School and graduated in the spring of 2013, by playing a concert with his compositions and arrangements. Óskar mostly plays jazz orientated music but also all kinds of diverse music, for example his balkan big band Orphic Oxtra, which has released two albums.