Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal (1947), raised at the intersection of classical and rock music, converted to jazz as a member of Jan Garbarek's
Esoteric Circle (october 1969).
He had cut his teeth in Dream, a psychedelic-rock band that released only
Get Dreamy (1967), and had then debuted as a leader with Black House (october 1968), featuring Jan Garbarek and Jon Christensen.
His next album as a leader,
Terje Rypdal (august 1971), was orchestrated for oboe, English horn, flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone (Jan Garbarek), electric piano (Bobo Stenson or Tom Halversen), bass (Arild Andersen) and percussion (Jon Christensen), and sounded like a cross of Weather Report's jazz-rock, Soft Machine's progressive-rock and Pink Floyd's psychedelic-rock (Keep It Like That Tight and especially Electric Fantasy), and it already signaled a significant departure from the prevailing (much more aggressive) style of guitar-based fusion jazz.
The same gentle tone permeated Bend It and especially What Comes After on What Comes After (august 1973), recorded by a smaller ensemble (that retained oboe and English horn, but neither the horns nor the piano).
Instead Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away (1974) explored the other end of the spectrum: the 14-minute Silver Bird Is Heading For The Sun was a majestic piece of progressive-rock with mellotron and French horn, while the 18-minute Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away for electric guitar, strings, oboe and clarinet was an ambitious neoclassical suite.
The double-LP Odyssey (august 1975), recorded by an ensemble with soprano saxophone, trombone, organ, strings, bass and drums, was the crowning achievement of the early phase of his career, representing all the poles of his art, from vibrant jazz-rock (the 26-minute Rolling Stone) to neoclassical ambience (Adagio), from progressive-rock (Midnite) to atmospheric jazz (Farewell).
Rypdal played all the instruments (electric and acoustic guitars, string ensemble, piano, electric piano, soprano saxophone, flute, tubular bells, bells) on After the Rain (august 1976) and downgraded his ambitions to the humbler format of impressionistic vignettes such as Autumn Breeze and After The Rain.
Continuining in his stylistic zigzag, Rypdal turned to a more traditional format for Waves (september 1977), recorded by a quartet with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and containing the effervescent, polyrhythmic Per Ulv.
Yet another departure came with Descendre (march 1979) that featured a trio of guitar, trumpet and drums crafting emotional multi-faceted atmospheres that represented Rypdal's sonic peak (Circles, Innseiling, Men of Mystery).
Odyssey was reissued as a triple-disc album including
Rolling Stone, that had been omitted from the original release,
as well as live performances.
Two collaborations with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer DeJohnette,
namely Rypdal/ Vitous/ DeJohnette (june 1978) and
To Be Continued (january 1981),
failed to sustain the interest, but
one with cellist David Darling, the electronic Eos (may 1983), boasted pieces such as Eos and Mirage that ranked among his most futuristic endeavors.
After indulging in conventional jazz-rock and fronting a guitar-bass-drums power-trio on The Chasers (may 1985), with Ambiguity, Blue (november 1986) and The Singles Collection (august 1988),
Rypdal delivered definitive versions of some of his classical compositions:
Undisonus (1990) for violin and orchestra, Ineo (1990) for choir and chamber orchestra, the five-movement Q.E.D. (december 1991)
for electric guitar, string ensemble, and woodwinds,
the sinfonietta Out Of This World, off Skywards (february 1996),
Double Concerto (1998) for two electric guitars and orchestra, 5th Symphony (1998),
the five-movement Lux Aeterna (july 2000) for chamber ensemble.
Vossabrygg (april 2003) is a confused work that recycles material
from Rypdal's classical compositions and toys with drum'n'bass and hip-hop.
High Lines (april 2004)
Crime Scene (may 2009) documents a sextet with Palle Mikkelborg (trumpet), Ståle Storløkken (Hammond B-3 organ), Paolo Vinaccia (drums and sampling), and the 17-piece Bergen Big Band conducted by Olav Dale.
The 41-minute suite of Melodic Warrior documents two sessions (december 2003 and november 2009) with the Hilliard Ensemble's voices.
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