History as God
Versus Science Versus Religion

52 Guitars: Week 25

Terje Rypdal

A Norwegian player whose work is most often something that could be roughly classified as jazz-rock fusion, Rypdal is a long-time ECM artist, going back to the mid-1970s, which really tells you more about him than an attempt to place him in a genre. I'm familiar with maybe four or five of his many releases, and even within those there is a great deal of variety, as will be evident from the clips below. And I didn't even touch his work for orchestra and other ensembles that aren't as guitar-focused.

"The Return of Per Ulv," from If Mountains Could Sing:


The title track from After the Rain:


A basically simple, but wonderfully moody and evocative piece from Chaser: "Ørnen", which Google Translate tells me means "The Eagle." I think a better title would be something having to do with a slow dance in 1959.


I said to someone not long ago that I probably have all the Rypdal I need. But based on my sampling of a number of albums while looking for material for this post, I don't think I do. Here's one more from Chaser, "Ambiguity." It's pretty much out-and-out rock:



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I was helping my oldest revise for his "aesthetics" exam last week (it's an obligatory school subject here, one hour per week), and was surprised to see that a lot of that was about various types of jazz.

He had to know a few basic facts about Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Stravinsky, Ravel, Elgar, Gershwin, and then Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton, and a couple of others. And be able to distinguish ragtime and boogie woogie, and so forth. When I was his age I don't think jazz had quite the same standing in musical history.

What most surprised me, though, was the syllabus covering Smetana in preference to Dvorak.

I'm not so sure jazz should have quite that standing, but it certainly deserves attention.

Yes, that is strange, considering that Smetana never wrote anything besides "The Moldau." :-)

Well, Romantic nationalism was one of the themes, and I think Smetana makes a pretty good specimen from that point of view. But even so.

It was you describing Rypdal as "jazz-rock fusion" that put me in mind of it. Bit of a tangent, I must admit.

Dvorak does, too. It is a bit odd, because I don't think many people would consider him on the same level as a composer. Not that Smetana isn't a worthy one, too.

Not sure I agree that "Ørnen/The Eagle" would be better named "something having to do with a slow dance in 1959". That doesn't sound quite right to me. Maybe because it reminds me of a big 1959 slow-dancing hit, "Sleep Walk".

“Ørnen/The Eagle” sounds like “Sleep Walk” in some ways, but it's got a very 60s feel, at least to me. It’s also not very danceable.

"Sleep Walk" is exactly what I was thinking of. True, it doesn't sound like 1959--there are sounds in there that nobody could have made in 1959--but to me it has a nostalgic feel. A bit like David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti's somewhat bent '50s-ish sounds. I admit it is a bit too slow for dancing.

Well, I see the fourth video, which was working on Saturday, has now been yanked for copyright infringement. I'll either find something else or remove it.

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