Crime Scene

Terje Rypdal

An exciting departure for ECM veteran Rypdal, this extended work, commissioned for the 2009 Bergen Festival, begins with a sound of swirling massed horns likely to bring Coltrane to mind. There is more than a hint of “Ascension” in the opening moments of “Crime Scene”, a work paced like a mystery thriller. The music surrounds the Rypdal quartet with Mikkelborg, Storløkken and Vinnaccia (all of whom recently appeared on the critically-acclaimed “Vossabrygg”) with a 17-piece jazz big band and keeps the action moving at a fast pace. Allaboutjazz reviewed the Bergen premiere: “Rypdal was in fine form…Whether he was playing with a slide or his fingers, his ice-edged tone was instantly recognizable. As was Mikkelborg’s, who played trumpet (muted with a Harmon mute at times) and flugelhorn, and making clear his own reference point in Miles Davis…”

Featured Artists Recorded

May 2009, Nattjazz, Bergen

Original Release Date


  • 1Clint - The Menace
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 2Prime Suspects
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 3Don Rypero
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 4Suspicious Behaviour
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 5The Good Cop
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 6Is That A Fact
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 7Parli con me?!
    (Paolo Vinaccia)
  • 8The Criminals
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 9Action
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 10One Of Those
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 11It's Not Been Written Yet
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 12Investigation
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 13A Minor Incident
    (Terje Rypdal)
  • 14Crime Solved
    (Terje Rypdal)
This often dramatic live show joins complex tapestries of dark bass-clarinet lines and slow-thrashing free jazz to churning funk and rock grooves. … Crime Scene is a good match of orchestral ambition and guitar-rock directness.
John Fordham, The Guardian
The individual elements of the unbroken suite – the freely improvised passages, the strong jazz-rock flavours, Rypdal’s Hendrix-like guitar, Mikkelborg’s superb, Milesian trumpet, the Coltrane-influenced tenors of the BBB’s Ole Jakob Hystad and Zoltan Vincze, the collages of film-noir soundbites – are not in themselves innovative, but Rypdal’s appreciation of how to use them together is compelling and imaginative. What he has written is indivisible from the way it is performed; it’s a living pice that must surely alter in each performance – the essence of jazz.
Ray Comiskey, The Irish Times
Norwegian guitarist Rypdal augments his quartet to superb effect with the Bergen Big Band on this epic live set… The spirit of Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane are both in evidence with drummer Paolo Vinaccia’s classic film dialogue samples interspersed throughout the stunning twelve track suite-like set resulting in a highly charged, yet wonderfully atmospheric mix that combines jazz and rock in equal measure.
Brent Keefe, Drummer
Mit Crime Scene hat Rypdal sein Meisterwerk geschaffen. Die CD präsentiert einen geläuterten Musiker, der nicht nur eine neue Mitte gefunden hat, sondern Kräfte entfesselt, die er selbst nicht für möglich gehalten hätte. Und seine Hörer schon gar nicht. Egal, in welche stilistische Schublade man die Platte packen will, Rypdal entpuppt sich als Genie der Tondichtung.
Wolf Kampmann, Jazzthetik

Recorded live at Bergen’s Natjazz Festival in May 2009, “Crime Scene” is a powerful and exciting addition to Terje Rypdal’s ECM discography. Although the Norwegian guitarist/composer has written often for orchestras or chamber ensembles – see, for instance, his “Undisonus”, “Q.E.D.”, “Double Concerto” and “Lux Aeterna” recordings – collaborations with jazz big band have less frequent.

Invited to write music for the Bergen Big Band, however, Rypdal was intrigued firstly to find that the two of the ensemble’s sax players and also conductor/flutist Olav Dale doubled on bass clarinet: “Three bass clarinets! That straight away offers unusual sound-colour and textural possibilities for a composer”. He was also impressed to learn that the Bergen musicians had just issued an album of variations on John Coltrane’s “Meditations” (“Meditations on Coltrane”, Grappa Records, 2007), a progressive choice for jazz big band. Late period Coltrane, and “Meditations” in particular, had been one of Rypdal’s own entry points into jazz improvising in the 1960s (“the music spoke to me much more directly than bebop did”) and he was pleased to revisit this formative influence in his composition.

Thus, where the “Vossabrygg” album (recorded 2003, released 2006) was in part a tribute to the Miles Davis of “Bitches Brew”, the plot of “Crime Scene” incorporates its salutes to Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders and the ecstatic glossolalia of their saxophones. Rypdal’s writing for the horns and reeds sends the horns and reeds into the overtone range for long stretches. The Bergen musicians respond to the challenge with real commitment.

A Rypdal small group – his partners Ståle Storløkken and Paolo Vinaccia from the Skywards trio plus old comrade Palle Mikelborg – are flanked by the massed Bergen players, conducted by Olav Dale, in a quasi concerto grosso format, a band inside a bigger band. There is passionate playing both at the centre and on the edges of the music and periodic bursts of flat-out rock jamming by Rypdal and his team, including incendiary exchanges between Terje and Storløkken, the latter perhaps best known for his contributions to noise/electro/improv band Supersilent. When the smoke clears, Mikkelborg and Rypdal evoke the spatial/textural skyscapes of their early collaborations (“Waves”, “Descendre”); a good deal of Rypdal’s musical history is referenced here.

The shards of film and radio-play dialogue scattered through the album, collected and collaged by Paolo Vinaccia, add a Noir-ish flair to the work, prompting Rypdal to add crime procedural titles to the music’s individual movements, though he stresses that connections between the subheadings and the music can only be loosely interpreted.

The Bergen premiere of “Crime Scene” was very well-received by the media. US webzine Allboutjazz compared Rypdal’s use of texture and sound colour to György Ligeti’s, and also observed, that “as fine a piece as ‘Vossabrygg’ was, Crime Scene surpassed it in scope and performance.”

In Norway, NRK Radio’s review noted that “Rypdal evokes outrageously exciting sounds from the big band set up. The hour-long piece is structured freedom. The tenorists Ole Jakob Hystad and Zontan Vinczes echo sixties Coltrane. And seventies-jazz rock is evoked when Palle Mikkelborg attacks. Through the pieces boil sound sequences from dramatic crime- and mafia flicks. On top soars Rypdal´s ecstatic guitar playing – we have in fact never heard him better."