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'Sky Music:A Tribute To Terje Rypdal'   

-  Label: 'Rune Grammofon'
-  Genre: 'Rock' -  Release Date: '25th August 2017'-  Catalogue No: 'RCD2194'

Our Rating:
A tribute to 'who'?', you may ask, despite the fact that Terje Rypdal is described as "a living legend" and a key figure in the progressive jazz movement in Norway.

I felt a little better about my own ignorance of the man and his music when I read that in 1996 the US magazine 'Guitar' included Rypdal in a top 15 list of 'The best guitarists you've never heard of'.

An accompanying essay commissioned for this release by Rolling Stone's David Fricke is also clearly based on the assumption that most listeners will be unfamiliar with the guitarist's work dating back to the 1970s. Friske labels Rypdal as "reliably compelling and perpetually elusive".

This album was conceived by idiosyncratic American guitarist and lifelong fan Henry Kaiser as a 70th birthday gift to the Norwegian. It comprises treatments of nine Rypdal compositions which are considered suitably 'iconic' to merit inclusion.

That said, it is a further measure of the obscurity of the artist in question that two pieces : Into The Wilderness and Out Of This World, which are lumped into a medley with Dream Song, are previously unreleased compositions.

The strong impression is that Rypdal is, above all, a musician's musician. Kaiser said he wanted to include as many guitarists in the project as possible to demonstrate the range of his influence.

Apart from cellist Erik Friedlander and drummer Grad Nilssen, Supersilent's keyboard player Ståle Storløkken, who has toured frequently with Rypdal, is the only other non guitarist on the album. He contributes to the aforementioned melody; a beautifully tranquil ambient piece that stands apart from the other guitar dominated pieces.

Five of the contributors are Scandinavian and the album was mostly recorded live in a Norwegian studio over a five day period. Sunrise is graced by the presence of Jim O'Rourke who sent his contribution from his Tokyo home.

There are a couple of elegant solo turns: Ømen by Bill Frisell and Avskjed by David Torn, while on What Comes After, an album high point, Wilco's Nels Cline joins forces with Friedlander.

The other tracks can best be described as freestyle jams. The enjoyment of these depends on your threshold for extended prog-rock style improvisation. If yours, like mine, is low then the two longest tracks - Over Birkerot/Silver Bird Heads For The Sun and Tough Enough/Rolling Stone/Tough Enough - are well worth skipping.     

We are promised a second volume of two side long outtakes from the recording session but now I know who Terje Rypdal is I think I can live without this.
  author: Martin Raybould

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