Personnel: Even Helte Hermansen (guitar); Gard Nilssen (drums).
Audio Mixer: Johnny Skalleberg.
Recording information: Atheltic Sound, Halden (05/02/2016/05/03/2016).
Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is the studio companion to the simultaneously released concert offering Bushman's Fire. The title translates into English as "Jazz from Memory," and that's what this date is. Bushman's Revenge began in 2004 as an exploratory jazz group and over time evolved into the beloved Oslo jazz-rock monster as likely to reflect Black Sabbath and King Crimson as John Coltrane. Here Bushman's Revenge issue their debut "proper" all-jazz studio outing as a rapprochement with their first love. They open with an excellent and inventive reading of McCoy Tyner's "Contemplation" steeped in blues and modalism. Guitarist Even Helte Hermansen's playing is drenched in lyricism, Gard Nilssen's drumming dances around him with an uncharacteristically light touch, and Rune Nergaard's bassline delivers a songlike quality in keeping time. The guitarist's solo begins to ratchet up the tune's intensity, spiraling and spiking his way along its changes à la Ray Russell, but never leaves jazz behind. The trio also covers Albert Ayler's "Angels." For most of its eight-plus minutes, they focus on its subtle melody, offering only slight variations on its themes while keeping their attack in check in favor of investigating its secrets. That changes over the last few minutes as Nergaard begins playing intense pizzicato up on the neck, and both Hermansen and Nilssen begin to push and pull at the harmony. The dam bursts eventually and becomes fiery, free-for-all electric jazz. This is not all the trio has up its sleeve here. The four originals express different aspects of the Bushman's Revenge persona. Check the inventive lyricism on ballad "Bo Marius," with its walking bassline, gently shimmering cymbal and snare work, and fingerpicked chord voicings. While "0500" spends its first two minutes as a skeletal bass solo, it gradually evolves into an improvisation based on folk themes, reflecting both Gabor Szabo and John Abercrombie. One can hear from its brooding intro that "Gamle Plata Til Arne" will explode, and it does. Again employing Eastern modal blues, Bushman's Revenge actively employ rock to explore the boundaries of spiritual jazz in extremis. Closer "Lola Mit Dem Gorgonzola" touches simultaneously on Wes Montgomery (quite inventively) and the late-night bluesy swing of Kenny Dorham in its minor-key articulations, carrying Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen out on a sweet, tender lyrical groove. While this set (mostly) lacks the mind-melting force and overdriven rockistry of their other work, it nonetheless contains the signature elements in the Bushman's Revenge sound. Here it is ordered, applied with more harmonic discipline and canny timekeeping, and cooked in stylized execution, making it an excellent addition to their catalog. ~ Thom Jurek