I believe this is the first jazz composition I’ve run into with an opus number. It illustrates the European approach to the music – on one level carefully composed but on another engaging in improvisation on a level more advanced than standard mainstream jazz. Rypdal also has composed a Fifth Symphony, so this seems to continue a tradition. The word Vossabrygg translates to Vossa Brew, and refers first to the Norwegian jazz festival for which it was commissioned and second not to beer but to Miles Davis’ pathbreaking Witches’ Brew album. The opening track, Ghostdancing,” is a tribute to the electric Miles on that album – wavering Fender Rhodes piano, B3 organ, long-repeated bass ostinatos and drumming with a rock beat. Over this bed of electronic drone come two wild solos – by Rypdal and by trumpeter Palle Mikkleborg. The work is nearly 19 minutes in length and if you’re a fan of the Miles of Witches’ Brew you’ll love it.
The rest of the album takes that style and runs with it. The band includes a pair of drummers, three synthesizers, and Rypdal’s son Marius furnishing various samplings, electronics and playing the turntables – mainly in the transitions between the various movements of Vossabrygg. With its mix of ambient, drone, world music, electronica and whatever these jazz-of-the-north cats come up with, there is plenty here to appeal to contemporary, probably younger generation ears. To mine it’s merely educational – not necessarily that pleasurable.
Movements: Ghostdancing, Hidden Chapter, Waltz for Broken Hearts/Makes you Wonder, Incognito Traveler, Key Witness, That’s More Like It, De Stagferdige, Jungeltelegrafen, You’re Making It Personal, A Quiet Word.
– John Henry