Now approaching their 20th anniversary, Norwegian power trio Bushman’s Revenge have been described as a bridge between the spiritual jazz of the late 60s and the blues, rock and psychedelia of Hendrix, Sabbath and Cream. Since they’re solidly grounded in jazz but open to influences spanning several decades of rock and pop history, I like to think of them as a modern-day analogue to Terje Rypdal’s Chasers.
This is the group’s eleventh album, and perhaps significantly it’s their first for the new Is It Jazz? imprint of Karisma Records. The impeccable studio production brings a warm and welcoming glow, and with so many of the pieces following tight song-like forms, the programme’s very deliberate pace and sequencing makes it feel like an album in the classic sense.
The slow, spacious Americana of the opening track wouldn’t be out of place on one of Bill Frisell’s recent sets. Last Cup Of Zorro oozes soul, and as Hermansen’s shimmering tremolo guitar weaves around an alluring bass-line we could be listening to the Stax house band. Blind Monkey offers a slightly different perspective on the soul ballad, while the fluent rubato storytelling of closing track Takk For Segg (“Thanks For Saying”) is a reminder of the group’s Scandinavian roots.
The two lengthier tracks contain some of the wildest playing of the set. The opening melodic salvos of Hollowed Be Thy Fame carry echoes of Ornette, Hermansen finally settling into an ascending juggernaut of a groove. Raptus Norvegicus shares a similar DNA, Hermansen’s screaming guitar buoyed by Nergaard and Nilsson’s tight riff-based unisons before finally fading out with a still, icy ambient coda.
Quite possibly the group’s most enjoyable and accessible work to date, this is one I’ll play and play again.
Halvannen Time (An Hour And A Half, More Than Enough); Last Cup Of Zorro; Hollowed Be Thy Fame; Stolen From A Blind Monkey; Raptus Norvegicus; Takk For Seg (42.44)
Even Helte Hermansen (elg); Rune Nergaard (b, elb); Gard Nilssen (d, pc, vib). Oslo, 5-7 April 2022 and 7 December 2022.
Is It Jazz? KAR 264CD