Album Reviews

Terje Rypdal – Crime Scene (ECM)

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Blending scenes from the world’s greatest horror, suspense and mob films with a joyous musical cacophony straight out of Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz playbook, Terje Rypdal’s Crime Scene plays out like a noir detective solving a crime; he may meander in different directions, but he always reaches a more-than-satisfying conclusion.

 Recorded at Bergen’s Natjazz Festival in May 2009, Crime Scene unfolds as the Norwegian guitar maestro takes the stage. Rypdal shines with familiar musicians—trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg dazzles with his trusty mute—and a 17-piece big band. But Crime Scene transcends everyday musicality and pushes the envelope when samples of everyone from Travis Bickle (“Taxi Driver”) to Emmett “Doc” Brown (“Back to the Future”) to Vito Corleone (“The Godfather”) come pouring out of the sound system. Rypdal’s ominous melodies and frenetic fret work get minds racing and hearts beating on “The Good Cop,” “Parli Con Me?!,” and “It’s Not Been Written Yet.”

 The playfulness that Rypdal infused in past hits like “Per Ulv” is nonexistent here, but the ingenuity and wily style that has defined this European genius comes out in full force. Like any cinematic thrill ride, sit back, think happy thoughts, and cheer like mad when it’s over.

 -Ira Kantor

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