Molde International Jazz Festival 2013
But, like Westerhus & Pale Horses, this was a first performance, and it's not uncommon for debuts to require a little judicious editing. But with no idea what to expect and with Rypdal playing at the top of his game, The Sound of Dreams was a performance that will absolutely go down as yet another memorable show for Molde 2013and hopefully one that will find its way to release a little more quickly than Melodic Warrior.
Since releasing its 2007 Jazzaway debut, Cowboy Musicbut especially since signing with Rune Grammofon in 2009 and releasing its label debut, You Lost Me At Hello Bushman's Revenge has evolved into one of Norway's more popular electric bands. A power trio featuring guitarist Even Helte Hermansen, electric bassist Rune Nergaard and drummer Gard Nilssen, the trio has become even better-known for its incendiary live shows, something that can finally be heard on its vinyl- and download-only live release, Electric Komle: Live! (Rune Grammofon, 2013). With six albums under its belt, what to do next?
The answer came with its midnight Molde performance, also at Teatret Vårt Konsert: invite some friends to the party and see what happens. Given those friends were violinist Ola Kvernberg (with whom Hermansen is a member of the newly formed Grand General, whose 2013 Rune Grammofon debut is one of the year's best debuts) and saxophonist Kjetil Møster (whose Edvard Lygre Møster (Hubro, 2013) is the long-awaited and red-hot recording from the quartet that first debuted in Kongsberg in 2010), it was a fair guess that what was going to happen was going to be something not just electric, but something positively nuclear.
And it was. Prior to the show, Hermansen, Møster and Kvernberg talked about being a little under-rehearsed, but other than both guests having music stands onstage (a rarity), there was no telling. And if Bushman's Revenge has evolved in one particular place it's been the writing, making its Molde show a combination of strong material and even stronger playing. For those who question the jazz cred of this high octane group, a thundering version of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" made clear that, if Bushman's Revenge and friends didn't play your daddy's or granddaddy's jazz, it had at least some connection to it.
Møsterone of the few saxophonists to be seen playing through an Ampeg stack, with plenty of foot pedals on the floor in front of himhas the benefit of great tone without all that gear, so when it's added to his tenor and baritone horns, the result is a sound that's positively massive. Kvernberg's violin may not be quite so huge, but his ability to soar over the hardest-rocking, mixed meter grooves makes him Norway's answer to Jerry Goodman. And if there were moments that, indeed, evoked memories of mid-'70s King Crimson and, in particular, Mahavishnu Orchestra Mark Ithough Hermansen's whammy bar-driven solos were a little less raw and unfettered than '70s-era John McLaughlin (but no less exciting)then Nilssen's powerhouse drumming helped complete the picture. Nilssen may play with greater subtlety in groups like Zanussi Five, but here, with a bass drum that looked like it had to be at least 24 inches in diameter, he combined thundering power with the fluidity born of experience in those other projects.
Continuing with the Mahavishnu reference, Nergaard is the quintessential background bassist, like MO's Rick Laird, anchoring everything, doing nothing visual to draw attention to himself and only rarely taking a solothough when he did take one, it was met with a huge round of applause from the packed, standing room crowd. Nilssen and Hermansen may have been the charisma, brains and brawn of Bushman's Revenge, but Nergaard was the heart. Add to that fiery power trio two soloists like Kvernberg and Møster, and the result was a late night show of riff-driven intensity that will, no doubt, be talked about for some time to come.
July 18: Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit / Take Five Europe