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Rypdal, Terje: Crime Scene

Norway's Terje Rypdal has been a mainstay on the ECM roster for decades, as well as an integral force in the jazz-fusion genre for just as long. His latest release, Crime Scene, was recorded live at Begen's Natjazz Festival in May 2009, and features a smaller band than we've seen the guitarist/composer work with in recent years. On trumpet you have Palle Mikkelborg, Hammond B-3 organ is Stale Storiokken, and drummer Paolo Vinaccia, but things are given a much fuller sound thanks to the addition of the Bergen Big Band, who are directed by Olav Dale.

Much of Crime Scene is a mix of free-jazz, large scale orchestral passages, and fiery rock jamming, plus there's plenty of movie bit samples splattered throughout from Vinaccia (yes, you'll hear classic lines from Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, and others throughout). Though there's 14 tracks that spread out over an hour, Crime Scene plays like one long extended suite, filled with tons of raucous trumpet explorations from Mikkelborg and squonking sax from those in the Bergen Big Band. The best though is waiting for eruptions from Rypdal and Storlokken, as their guitar/Hammond interplay will instantly bring to mind some of Rypdal's early 70's material, or even the fuzzed out passages made famous by John McLaughlin and Larry Young in Tony Williams Lifetime. When Terje fires off his distorted slide guitar licks on "Action", look out for plenty of menace! Fans of somber, exploratory jazz will love the extended piece "It's Not Been Written Yet", while the more bombastic numbers "Investigation" and "Don Rypero" have a heavy jazz-rock slant, and bridge the gap between electric era Miles Davis and the Tony Williams Lifetime. The latter features some savage riffing from Rypdal and white hot shards of distorted leads and violent whammy bar excursions, complemented nicely by swirling Hammond from Storlokken.

Ultimately, Crime Scene is a very exciting and diverse platter from Terje Rypdal, proving once again just how important an artist he is and how those creative juices of his are still flowing.

Track Listing

  1. Clint--The Menace
  2. Prime Suspects
  3. Don Rypero
  4. Suspicious Behaviour
  5. The Good Cop
  6. Is That A Fact
  7. Parli Con Me?!
  8. The Criminals
  9. Action
  10. One Of Those
  11. It's Not Been Written Yet
  12. Investigation
  13. A Minor Incident
  14. Crime Solved

    Added: August 5th 2010
    Reviewer: Pete Pardo
    Related Link: ECM Records
    Hits: 1915
    Language: english

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Rypdal, Terje: Crime Scene
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-08-05 17:42:25
My Score:

Crime Scene is a deep, dark, intense, loosely conceptual free jazz work-out incorporating Palle Mikkelborg on trumpet, Stale Storlokken hammering the Hammond B-3, and Paolo Vinaccia's diverse drumming which all revolves around Terje Rypdal's wonderfully enigmatic guitar work. The early tracks on the album focus on building a tension that really creates an intriguingly menacing base on which the Bergen Big Band, who are directed by Olav Dale throughout the disc, are allowed to really crank up the threatening atmosphere. However as the music begins to flow, the real ace card of this album is revealed. Instead of remaining solely in free jazz, Crime Scene evolves into and back out of some romping rock passages that are punctuated by mesmerising rhythms from Vinaccia.

Considering how densely claustrophobic those early exchanges can be, the joy of the guitars, organ and trumpet locking into place on the third track -"Don Rypero" - and unearthing a killer groove, is like cupping your hands into a running stream on a stifling day and taking a long refreshing swallow of water. The change in direction is remarkably smooth, whilst managing to be profound enough to make you sit up and take notice. Rypdal and Storlokken especially manage to slide into more rock based themes with expertly displayed ease, while Storlokken succeeds in reeling the more broken-down wistful moments back towards the Bergen Big Band, creating a build and release, build and release flow to the compositions that forms one continuous and rewarding piece of music.

Sometimes the songs all flow into one another through subtle instrumentation, however gangster and crime movie dialogue is also used with great effect to not only meld the songs together, but to add a film-noir quality to the album. The dialogue doesn't attempt to work into any sort of story in a conventional sense; it does become an integral part of the journey. "Parli Con Me?!" is the best example as it brings a flurry of random scenes together in quick succession over an intense sampled beat, creating an almost tangible air of fear. This is then built upon by the Big Band on the next song "The Criminals", before Rypdal and Vinaccia really let fly on the stunning "Action".

There is so much going on across the fourteen tracks of Crime Scene that a considerable amount of listening time is required to really get into the album's setting, however once you do, it is difficult to leave.

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