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Terje Rypdal 

Vossabrygg (ECM)

Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal has long been on the cutting edge of jazz, playing with American innovator George Russell in the '60s and as a distinguished stylist in the distinctively uncommercial sector of European fusion from the '70s through the '90s. Often yesterday's avant-garde becomes the new orthodoxy, but Vossabrygg proves that Rypdal is not treading water in any era.

Inspired by Miles Davis' seminal late-'60s electric era as well as aspects of trip-hop and drum & bass, Rypdal emerges with a scintillatingly inventive approach. His playing is sumptuous (often accenting his seldom-heard bluesy side), ferocious, and resounding (with occasional echoes of King Crimson's Robert Fripp and hints of metal). Samples and beats are used cunningly -- this is no "crossover" bid -- and his band plays as a unit, emphasizing shading, interplay, and subtlety over interminable soloing. A special bonus is Palle Mikkelborg's crystalline trumpet, recalling Miles' majestic tone without ever sounding like him. Moods range from pensive chill-out ("Waltz for Broken Hearts") to feverish ("You're Making It Personal"). The stunning Vossabrygg just might restore fusion's good name.

More by Mark Keresman

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