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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Bushman’s Revenge - All the Better For Seeing You (Is It Jazz?, 2023)

By Martin Schray

The Norwegian Jazz trio Bushman’s Revenge was formed in 2003, their first album from 2007 was on a label called Jazzaway. The trio, which is Even Helte Hermansen on guitar, Rune Nergaard on bass and Gard Nilssen on drums, has released ten well received albums, eight for the marvelous Rune Grammofon label, before they went to Hubro with Et Hån Mot Overklassen. Their new album is released by Is It Jazz?, which is not only a label’s name but also a programmatic question.

Some quotes about the band are almost legend. Jazzwise said that they were “insanely good, as if Jeff Beck was backed by Elvin Jones“, while David Fricke of the Rolling Stone magazine said that they were “like a Marshall amp version of John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space“. On the one hand, the quotes are catchy, of course, and make it clear that Bushman's Revenge play a very unique version of jazz rock, but on the other hand, they are only half true, because they do not reflect the complexity and the many influences of the music.

On their new album this is undoubtedly, as far as Even Helte Hermansen’s guitar is concerned, mainly Bill Frisell (“Halvannen Time - an hour and a half, more than enough“, “Stolen From A Blind Monkey“ and “Takk For Seg“), John Abercrombie (“Last Cup of Zorro“), a cross between Vernon Reid and Larry Coryell (“Hollowed Be Thy Fame“) and finally indeed Jeff Beck (“Raptus Norvegicus“). Drummer Gard Nilssen’s influences are primarily Tony Williams, Ed Blackwell, Roy Haynes and Jack DeJohnette, while Rune Nergaard incorporates both Jack Bruce, Steve Swallow and Stanley Clarke into his playing. All of this, plus the musicians’ love of all kinds of jazz, rock and improvised music, allows the band to flow together into one big “gumbo of sound“. As a result, the guitar sounds float over rock riffs, Nilssen’s drumming is always rooted in improvised jazz. On top of that, Nergard’s bass remains stoic on a rock solid foundation, not unlike the old label mates Fire!’s approach. As a consequence, Bushman’s Revenge’s melting pot always has a psychedelic component. So, is this jazz? I don’t know, but there’s definitely something of the spirit of the 1960s about these guys; they were born a little too late to become superstars. They would have deserved it.

All the Better for Seeing You is available on vinyl, as a CD and as a download. You can listen to it and buy it here.