|1. Darkness Falls|
|4. Better Off Without You|
|1. Over Birkerot|
|2. Fare Well|
|4. Rolling Stone|
|1. Unfinished Highballs|
|2. The Golden Eye|
|3. Scarlet Mistress|
|5. Dine And Dance to the Music of the Waves|
|6. Talking Back|
See all 7 tracks on this disc
The complete Odyssey may address a longstanding demand from the great guitarist's many followers, but Unfinished Highballs will surprise even Rypdal's most committed fans. It reveals that not only were many of the markers which would come to define his career already in place, but the intrepid guitarist was already searching for ways to include, rather than exclude, in his approach to composition and performance.
Even that major part of the much-praised, award-winning 1975 Odyssey album that was previously available on CD has been out of the catalogue for some time, so this combination of influential recordings and the significant revelations of Unfinished Highballs makes this new box highly attractive.
"Even when the dynamics are extreme, Rypdal's sophistication is evident. There are long passages on 'Midnite', 'Adagio' and 'Farewell' which might be offcuts from a forgotten Miles Davis date...The harmonics are entirely his own and very elusive, which is why this record, and others of the time, manage to sound fresh even now." - The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of Jazz in the 1001 Best Albums
Personnel: Terje Rypdal (electric guitar, synthesizer, soprano saxophone), Torbjørn Sunde (trombone), Brynjulf Blix (organ, synthesizer, electric piano), Sveinung Hovensjø (bass guitar), Svein Christiansen (drums), Disc 3 only: Swedish Radio Jazz Group, Georg Riedel and Terje Rypdal (directors)
Rypdal's early solo records mixed a heavy Miles Davis influence with an introspective, wintry impressionism and an interest in unusual textures. By the time of Odyssey he'd already written a piece for electric guitar and string orchestra and absorbed influences from composers Ligeti and Penderecki. The music was heading towards a uniquely Nordic fusion that would help define the ECM sound.
Odyssey features a more-or-less regular band. Its music is dense, more obviously rock-influenced, with Sveinung Hovensjø's fuzzed-out electric bass often taking the lead and Svein Christiansen's drums providing a meaty but intricate pulse. Torbjørn Sunde's lyrical but muscular trombone and Brynjulf Blix's organ swirls are the foils for Rypdal's guitar, soprano saxophone and synth strings.
The Miles influence is still discernible, particularly on the brooding Midnite and Rolling Stone. But there are shades of prog, psychedelia and a foretaste of Rypdal's later atmospheric tone poems, too, in Adagio and Ballade. The string sounds are dated, but there's enough fire (and ice) present to make Odyssey worth hearing today. One has to wonder why it's taken so long for the complete original recording to be issued on CD.
The third disc makes it definitely worth the wait. Rypdal's band (minus Sunde) is joined by the 15-piece Swedish Radio Jazz Group for a suite titled Unfinished Highballs, recorded live. The arrangements, directed by Rypdal alongside SRJG bassist Georg Riedel, are unsurprisingly more "jazz" oriented, with shades of George Russell, Gil Evans and even Zappa's The Grand Wazoo.
Despite the presence of three bassists, two drummers, a mellotron and an 11-piece horn section, there's plenty of space in this recording, and the closing ballad Bright Lights – Big City must be one of the most gorgeous things Rypdal's ever done. It closes out a gem of a collection.
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