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Terje Rypdal - Ketil Bjørnstad & Terje Rypdal: Life in Leipzig CD (album) cover

KETIL BJØRNSTAD & TERJE RYPDAL: LIFE IN LEIPZIG

Terje Rypdal

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Matti
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Even though most of the material on this piano & guitar live album is composed by the pianist Ketil Bjørnstad (who's not a ProgArchives artist) instead of Terje Rypdal, I hope no-one disagrees with me on that adding it into Rypdal's discography is completely justified, and that my review will be useful for those listeners who appreciate not only the Norwegian guitarist but the whole chamber jazz oeuvre of the inimitable ECM label. That said, I'm glad about the chance to praise also Bjørnstad as an individual musician and composer. In the mid-90's, when I started more seriously to expand my music listening into jazz and fusion, ECM actually being a central guiding light for me, one of the albums that impressed me was The Sea (1994) composed by Bjørnstad. The pianist was joined by Rypdal on guitar, David Darling on cello and Jon Christensen on drums. It comes as no surprise that Bjørnstad and Rypdal have included movements of that collaborative work in their duo concert from 2005.

The 54-minute set opens with 'The Sea [part] V' which begins in a stark, atonal way before entering into moody melodicism. This is what All Music Guide says of The Sea album: "The 12 parts set somber moods rather than introduce memorable themes and the only real excitement is supplied by Rypdal's rockish guitar. Some listeners may enjoy its introspective and peaceful nature of these performances but most will find this a bit of a bore." Well, that's probably true, this kind of music isn't for all. I have had memorable listenings of The Sea that vividly paints emotionally deep inner images of a solitary walk on a cold seashore. It sure helps if the listener has a certain warm attitude towards nature, melancholia and solitude. These words fit to this whole concert. The overall atmosphere is indeed introspective and moody, but certainly not without dynamics.

Rypdal's compositions are in minority (four out of 11), but I wish to point out that the concert represents piano and electric guitar as pretty equal components; with an exception of Edward Grieg's piano piece 'Notturno' all tracks are duo pieces, not solo. Ketil Bjørnstad is undoubtedly the more melancholy-oriented composer of the two, but Rypdal's pieces such as 'The Pleasure Is Mine, I'm Sure' or 'Easy Now' feel completely at home besides the pianist's compositions. Their individual, impressionistic musical expressions fit together extremely well.

Probably the concert would sound better and more versatile if for example cello and drums were participating too, but if you don't actively think of that, you won't find the piano & guitar duo lacking substance at all. The sonic quality is faultless. The audience is not much heard apart from the end, but they applause delightfully as they recognize the final piece 'The Return of Per Ulv' originally from Rypdal's If Mountains Could Sing (1995). Warmly recommended to friends of ECM's (often Norwegian) chamber jazz.

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Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2018 | Review Permalink

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