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Thread: Terje Rypdal

  1. #1

    Terje Rypdal

    Yeah, there's probably a Terje Rypdal thread already, buried somewhere in on like page 421 or whatever, but I've never had much luck with search engines. So I'm starting a new one.


    I was kinda taken aback some time ago, when I looked up Rypdal's catalog on Wikipedia, and realized how much of his 70's and 80's output I have. Except for the eponymous album (his second album as a leader, first one on ECM), Blue and Undisonous, I have every single album he did during the 70's, 80's and 90's, on either CD or LP (and sometimes both).

    So this weekend, I decided to buy the downloads from Amazon, of the eponymous album, What Comes After, Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away, and After The Rain. Except for the eponymous record, I have all of those on vinyl (bought back in the 90's, I think What Comes After was bought at a thrift store), but really haven't listened to them in ages. I now have every album Rypdal released as a leader from the eponymous album up through Chaser. I also got Barre Phillips' Three Day Moon, the bassist's 1979 album, which Rypdal also played on.

    So last night, I listened to Terje Rypdal (I mean the album, silly) for the very first time. That strikes me as a very sort of free jazz record, less "fusion" there, except for the electric instrumentation, and especially Terje's always evocative guitar playing. Also kinda nice to his (now ex-)wife Inger Lise Rypdal's vocals on the one track she appeared on, I think it was Electric Fantasy.

    I reacquainted myself with What Comes After, having probably not listened to it in over 20 years. I actually bought my LP copy, I think, at a thrift store my mom used to frequent. I'd go in occasionally to check the LP's, and I think sometime around 94 or so, I found that one. Probably only paid a buck for it. This album kinda seems like an extension of the free-ish areas of the previous record. It's almost a power trio kinda sound, because you've got Terje, Jon Christensen (who also played on the previous record) on drums, and there's two bassist credited, both Barre Phillips and Sveinung Hovensjø, though I'm not sure if they play together or if they alternate on different tracks. And there's also an oboist/English Hornist named Erik Niord Larsen, who plays on one or two tracks, I think. Anyway, it's a solid record. But it still feels like "baby steps" toward the next string of records, which I think are where Terje really hit his stride.

    So this afternoon, I spent some time with first Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away and then Odyssey. Side one of the former finds the Rypdal/Christensen/Hovensjø trio joined by a French hornist and a keyboardist (playing electric piano, and wonder of wonders! A Mellotron, making a rare appearance on a "jazz" record). Side two is the title piece, Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away (Image for Electric Guitar and Orchestra), which I believe was the first Terje's "classical" pieces to be released. Fantastic music on this record. I think this is what Gustav Mahler might have sounded like if he had played guitar and led a "fusion" group.

    Odyssey I consider to be one of the greatest of all "fusion" records. Originally a double LP (I own it in that format), here Rypdal again expands his group by adding an organist and trombonist, and really pulls out all the stops. My only thing is, I sometimes wish sides three and four had been reversed. See, the album opens with a track called Darkness Falls, and the last track on side three, Ballade, has always sounded like the sunrise, if you know what I mean. So to me, Ballade should have been the last track on the album (on the original CD release, it was, because side four was left off altogether). I dunno what to say about this record, to me this is in the same pantheon as Bitches Brew, A Tribute To Jack Johnson etc.

    It's worth noting that the 3 CD reissue of Odyssey also includes an album length piece, recorded back in 74 or 75 but unreleased until this set came out a few years ago, called Unfinished Highballs, which is an extended suite of big band pieces, commissioned for and broadcast by Norwegian Radio. Again, this shows another side of Rypdal's music you don't often hear on his small band ECM records.

    Since I decided to play everything I have in order, I have to stop here, because I'm in the middle of Rolling Stone, that LP side length piece from side four of Odyssey.

  2. #2
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    Perhaps more of a completist selection - Paolo Vinaccia - Very Much Alive has 6 discs of some blistering material from various live dates with Terje Rypdal.
    A pretty wide cross section of material from a killer lineup.
    https://www.discogs.com/Paolo-Vinacc...elease/2605107
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
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  3. #3
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwoll View Post
    Perhaps more of a completist selection - Paolo Vinaccia - Very Much Alive has 6 discs of some blistering material from various live dates with Terje Rypdal.
    A pretty wide cross section of material from a killer lineup.
    https://www.discogs.com/Paolo-Vinacc...elease/2605107
    I have just binged this box this evening ! Great stuff!

    The 'old' Terje Rypdal thread is here
    https://www.progressiveears.org/foru...2-Terje-Rypdal
    Last edited by Zeuhlmate; 3 Weeks Ago at 06:50 AM.

  4. #4
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Jeez, I thought this was the real Rypdal thread.
    He did not know that the sword he'd hold, would turn his priceless empire into fool's gold...

    http://www.discogs.com/user/moecurlythanu/collection

  5. #5
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Odyssey was his best vehicle. Eicher apparently didn’t like them and that was the end....
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "You run a great label, but sometimes you go out of your way to be a jerk." - Jed Levin

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    Odyssey was his best vehicle. Eicher apparently didn’t like them and that was the end....
    You mean Manny didn't like the Odyssey band, and that's why he dropped the organ and trombone?

  7. #7
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    "Manny" [made me laugh] didn't like the band and encouraged TR to not do more stuff with them.

    a REAL pity, imo.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "You run a great label, but sometimes you go out of your way to be a jerk." - Jed Levin

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  8. #8
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    "Manny" [made me laugh] didn't like the band and encouraged TR to not do more stuff with them.

    a REAL pity, imo.
    How utterly stupid...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    "Manny" [made me laugh] didn't like the band and encouraged TR to not do more stuff with them.

    a REAL pity, imo.
    I glad you found my nickname for Mr. Eicher amusing. It's a damn shame if that's really the reason that band came to an end. I'm kind of inclined to feel Odyssey and Waves were probably his two best albums. But as record company executive decisions go, I've seen worse. I mean, it's not quite as bad as Mitch Miller turning down The Beatles, ya know? At least Manny was smart enough to keep Terje on the label.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    Odyssey was his best vehicle. Eicher apparently didn’t like them and that was the end....
    I agree...though I've seen enough unrecorded Rypdal projects that Terje could have continued with the band...and also, there are no contracts with ECM, barring on an album by album basis. Rypdal could have left the label, though it's true that at the time he'd have had more trouble finding one with international distribution. Nowadays, a number of former ECM Norwegian artists, like Christian Wallumrød and Nils Okland, to name two, have moved to Hubro (in the case of Okland, it just his own group but also the Lumen Drones trio as well).

    It's true that Manfred has a strong fist when it comes to his vision of what should be on the label (and he's certainly not always right, finally, after something like 34 years, releasing Ocyssey in its entirety, including the side-long "Rolling Stone," which Manfred apparently really didn't like, so the first CD release of the album omitted it, ostensibly to fit onto a single CD, despite the song apparently being a particular fan fave in Germany.

    But nobody twists artists arms to stay on the label, since there are no multi-year/multi-release contracts. And some do leave, like Metheny and Dave Holland. But I can see, especially at the time, why Rypdal chose to accept Manfred's limitations and remain on the label, not just because he'd have had trouble finding a label with ECM's reach and brand loyalty at the time...but also, having met Terje a couple times and then interviewing him for the Odyssey box reissue, it's just not in his nature to deal with such business matters. While he, and a great many other Norwegian artists of note, many on ECM, are now managed by Kjell Kalleklev and his Kalleklev agency (and Kjell does really well for them), I don't know what his situation was like, back in the mid$'70s.

    I'd certainly agree, overall, that Odyssey was his best band at the time, though I think some subsequent bands groups have been very, very good and have had longevity, in particular his Skywards Trio, which has often, in addition to its own work, been at the core of other projects, like his commissioned The Sound of Dreams project, which I saw in Molde in 2013 (Skywards + Jon Christensen, bassoonist James Lassen and Ryodal's son, Marius, on electronics), and the Crimescene collaboration with the Bergen Big Band, Skywards Trio and Palle Mikkelbourg that I saw at Bergen's Nattjazz festival in 2009, the show ultimately released, as Crime Scene, on ECM in 2010.

    His latest, Conspiracy, was released earlier this year and, barring its EP-length brevity, features Skywards keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, drummer Pål Thowsen (with whom he played in the '60s/'70s with Garbarek, Andersen and other and who is, for the moment, replacing Rypdal's sadly departed, longtime Skywards Trio drummer Paolo Vinaccia) and, in a relatively rare move, a bassist, Endre Hareide Hallre.

    So I think that his Skywards trio, but with Vinaccia now passed, especially his now longstanding collaboration with Storløkken (who also plays in Elephant9 and Humcrush, amongst many others, in addition to collaborating, at times, with Motorpsycho),, is clearly a very fruitful one.
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    And some do leave, like Metheny and Dave Holland
    .

    I read the reason that Metheny left was because Eicher would never let anyone spend more than a day or two in the studio per album. I gather Metheny wanted to do more elaborate things with his arrangements (notice he expanded the PMG after he left ECM) and wanted to spend more time working on each album and getting it "just right". I always assumed that was more of a budget thing, like maybe ECM didn't have the budget for anyone to spend more than a couple days working on any given record.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    .

    I read the reason that Metheny left was because Eicher would never let anyone spend more than a day or two in the studio per album. I gather Metheny wanted to do more elaborate things with his arrangements (notice he expanded the PMG after he left ECM) and wanted to spend more time working on each album and getting it "just right". I always assumed that was more of a budget thing, like maybe ECM didn't have the budget for anyone to spend more than a couple days working on any given record.
    Indeed I'm it was a budgetary thing, and it's important to look at the bigger picture.

    Yes, for the most part (with some exceptions), ECM's MO was two days to record, one day to mix. Given the label was funding its recordings, and improvisation was a big part of the picture, that was both a reasonable and fiscally prudent approach. And consider the great number of classic recordings that the label released in just its first 10 years, it clearly seemed to work for most, and meant that because costs were low, for every big seller like Jarrett's Koln Concert or Pat Metheny Group albums, the label never lost money on the records that didn't sell anywhere near as well. It was the bigger picture of funding an entire label, rather than individual recordings.

    And since ECM didn't do contracts - each album was a single contract, literally done by handshake - artists were free to part ways if the label's approach didn't work for them. So, Metheny parted ways with ECM after a decade and a dozen largely very successful solo albums (a couple years more if you include his pre-solo work with Gary Burton), in order to take more time to to shape his vision for, amongst other things, PMG. But when you consider his ECM releases as a leader, the two day record/one day mix didn't seem to prevent him from making a number of still undisputed classics.

    But no, ECM's approach wasn't (and isn't) for everyone. But you must also conaider that the vast majority of Blue Note recordings, as another example, and so many of them also major classics, were recorded in a matter of hours in but a single afternoon, live off the floor with no overdubs. Even today, the Danish Criss Cross label restricts its artists to just one day recording and one day mixing. While it has certainly challenged some of its artists, who were working on complex compositions (like David Binney, a personal fave) to get the work done, get the work done they invariably did. And largest with great success.

    So yes, what you say is largely true, but there are sound reasons behind it. Just look at the breadth and depth of the label's output, and how many albums were very small sellers, and yet ECM continues to maintain itself as an ongoing concern. Even more, its approach was and is not particular restrictive for many jazz artists. But for guys like Metheny, who grew to have something else, something more cinematic and ambitious in mind (and he's certainly entitled to do so), let's not forget that the success of those three-day recordings (barring live albums), albums, including Pat Metheny Group, Offramp, Travels and As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, all helped him build the kind of career that has allowed him to the freedom to subsequently follow his own muse and take considerably more time to shape his recordings.

    I don't think it's an overstatement to suggest that without those first ten years at ECM, the albums he made with the label as a leader, and the reputation he wa able to grow through them and his relentless touring schedule (!), it's certainly possible that he would not have become the major name that he has in the ensuing 35 years.

    Cheers!
    J
    PS: and the reason Dave Holland left the label was because he wanted more control over his work, and full ownership of his master. Manfred has certain, general "unwritten" rules, like, for the most part, you won't see more than three consecutive albums by an artist with the exact same lineup. There are exceptions (Jarrett's Standards Trio being a big one), but for the most part, three albums and that's it. John Abercrombie managed to buck that with his early 2000s string quartet with Mark Feldman, by replacing bassist Drew Gress with Thomas Morgan for what would have been the quartet's fourth album... Abercrombie's fourth album with Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine included guest John Surman, while his fourth organ trio album with Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum also had Joe Lovano, Mark Feldman and Kenny Wheeler as guests. So there were and are ways around it, but few artists get that opportunity.
    Last edited by jkelman; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:32 PM.
    John Kelman
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    Freelance writer/photographer

  13. #13
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    ^^^

    John,

    Look.

    I admire Manfred’s accomplishments. He’s responsible for a HUGE body of worthy music.

    But MANY of his artists are TERRIFIED of him. This is a fact. I KNOW this. You know it too, even if you don’t want to talk about it.

    That’s not good and while he’s very important, he’s LESS important than the musicians.

    IMO. YMMV. But he’s NOT always right...IMO
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "You run a great label, but sometimes you go out of your way to be a jerk." - Jed Levin

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    ^^^

    John,

    Look.

    I admire Manfred’s accomplishments. He’s responsible for a HUGE body of worthy music.

    But MANY of his artists are TERRIFIED of him. This is a fact. I KNOW this. You know it too, even if you don’t want to talk about it.

    That’s not good and while he’s very important, he’s LESS important than the musicians.

    IMO. YMMV. But he’s NOT always right...IMO
    I'm not disagreeing with you, Steve. But I don't think Manfred had become, to put it nicely, such a hard ass in the mid '70s. And I did say he had/has a strong fist. I'm not going to go further than that because, for me, that wouldn't strike me as appropriate.

    But the one thing I sill say is this, amd know you know this: ECM doesn't do record contracts. So there's noth7nf tying people to the label if they are truly unhappy. If they are being manipulated by Manfred, given there's no legal commitment beyond the album at hand, then they have a simple option.: leave. But I know that for some getting another label, especially back then, with ECM's international reach? That's certainly a motivation to stay on. But these days, like I said in yours or another post, ore guys - especially Norwegians - sure leaving the label because there are options, like Wallumrød and Okland to Hubro, and a Sidsel are Dresden and Nils Petter Molvær leav8ng the label decades ago, in the '90s or early '00s.

    So folks who don't like Manfred have options they largely didn't back in the '70s. And that's a good thing, as it means they're less compelled to stick with the label if it's not an enjoyable or creative experience.

    That's really my point. There were fewer options for Europeans especially in the '70s/'80s. Now there are more.
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

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