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Odyssey: In Studio & In Concert [3CD] Box set
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Terje Rypdal was the electric guitar innovator in the 1970s. This box set in ECM's Old & New Masters Series collects his two-LP Odyssey album - heard on CD in its entirety for the first time, including the much-requested and epically-rocking "Rolling Stone" - and Unfinished Highballs, a recently unearthed 1976 radio recording that documents the Norwegian guitarist's work for his Odyssey quartet and the Swedish Radio Jazz Group.
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)
Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal had already come a long way when Odyssey was made in 1975. A Hank Marvin-inspired rock’n’roller in the late 60s, he soon gravitated towards jazz and played with visiting American composer and theorist George Russell. Through Russell he met fellow future ECM star Jan Garbarek and joined his free-blowing first quartet, playing with an intensity that equalled Sonny Sharrock.
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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Top Customer Reviews
however it turned out that Rypdals album "Odyssey" was much more than a "Tubular bells"clone,after the concert i went to the consessions counter and bought a pristine,vinyl pressing of the afforementioned "Odyssey"
"Darkness falls"is a short track ,with echoes of Miles Davis' electric period,stunning guitars,very atmospheric.
"Midnite"a ssuperb sixteen minute track thate xplores the very edges of experimental , electronic Jazz,although thos is almost progressive rock,with its drum passages and guitar solos,in some ways i am put in mind of "Yeti" by Amon Duul2 ,but the guitar playing is full scale Rypdal.
"Adagio"another long mysterious track,full of evocotive sound effects.
"Better off without you"is sevehn minutes of beautifully atmospheric and mellow.
CD TWO (46.15)
"Over birkerot"this is a strident,almost rock piece that seems to develope well,it reminds me of "Eight miles high"by The Byrds.
"Fare well"anambient almost ghost like quality transfixes the ;istener on this eleven minute track.
"Ballade"almost Germanic in quality,thisis very much in the style of Kenny Wheeler
"Rolling stone" a long ,twenty four minute tour de force,described in the booklet as "nearly a hit in Germany and Italy"well,it takes all sorts!!!"
CD THREE (67.Read more ›
You're a guitar fan searching fruitlessly for more Mahavishnu like intensity? Make this your next stop.
But the real surpise in this re-issue is the quality of the bonus Unfinished Highballs suite, with it's complex George Russell influenced big band charts. This would have made a valid release in its own right at the time. It is beautifully composed, arranged, played and recorded, although maybe it's the engineering disater near the end (a sax solo is inexplicably and horribly distorted for a brief while)that has kept us from hearing it until now.
Rypdal fans will be buying this anyway to get Rolling Stone, but this extra disc really makes the release essential.
Come on though ECM, you should have retained the original iconic artwork!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Being already one of my all time favorite album, this was not a surprise but the third CD
containing radio recordings with orchestra is a nice ad to this gem.
I once owned 'Odyssey' on vinyl... This re-issue on CD was something I was looking for a long long time. Musically, a masterpiece...!Published 23 months ago by mike
I FIRST HEARD THIS NORWEGIAN GUITARIST WHEN I DISCOVERED ECM RECORDS THEMSELVES SOMETIME IN THE EARLY 1980s;
I REMEMBER BUYING THIS RECORD OUT OF CURIOSITY AND ALTHOUGH IT... Read more