This show features two very different bands that both include explosive Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen—in his country’s creative-music scene, playing radically divergent styles is par for the course. Bushman’s Revenge started out in 2003 as a relatively conventional jazz-guitar trio, but by their second album, 2009’s You Lost Me at Hello, they’d become a proggy power trio—and Nilssen, bassist Rune Nergaard, and guitarist Even Helte Hermansen took advantage of their rhythmic flexibility and fearsome chops to do much more than play a lot of notes. On the recent Electric Komle—Live! they display stop-on-a-dime precision in their control of the band’s storming power; they pull back for a surprisingly tender reading of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” then turn on the jets with “No More Dead Bodies for Daddy Tonight.” On the forthcoming Thou Shalt Boogie! (due in January on Rune Grammofon), the Hammond B-3 of guest keyboardist David Wallumrod ups the prog-rock quotient while adding a touch of serenity—“Waltz Me Baby, Waltz Me All Night Long” could almost pass for Bill Frisell tackling a Radiohead song.
Nilssen maintains his energy and focus in Cortex, a quartet led by trumpeter Thomas Johansson, but here it’s in the service of top-flight post-Ornette freebop (a la fellow Scandinavians Atomic). On last year’s forceful Göteborg (Gigafon), Nilssen and bassist Ola Høyer provide sleek, muscular propulsion for Johansson, one of the most agile and robust trumpeters I’ve heard in years, and saxophonist Kristoffer Berre Alberts; the horn men blow tart unison melodies, then break apart to deliver high-velocity improvisations that fall somewhere between the tempo-shifting alacrity of John Zorn’s Masada and the harnessed chaos of Hal Russell’s NRG Ensemble. Both groups are making their Chicago debuts. —Peter Margasak Bushman’s Revenge headlines; Cortex and SoSaLa open. $5 suggested donation
Elegantly lyrical pianist Fred Hersch rolls into town this week with his favorite working band, bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson. The piano trio is the format he most often uses—and the one that best enables him to work subversively within the mainstream tradition, packing subtle harmonic surprises and rhythmic reinventions into the most familiar standards—but it’s hardly the only kind of setting where he excels. This year Hersch has released two very different albums that show off his ability to interact meticulously and at the highest level with his bandmates. Everybody does a lot of tightrope walking on Fun House (Songlines), a haunting double-trio session with French pianist Benoît Delbecq, bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel, and drummer Steve Argüelles (Hersch is accompanied by bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway). Delbecq wrote nearly all the music, but though his prepared piano and electronic manipulations take center stage, Hersch is just as invested, reacting to his fellow keyboardist with precision and empathy—their give-and-take is refined and subtle, producing a chamberlike sound that’s startling in its clarity and lack of clutter. The terse, meditative compositions are harmonically ambiguous and drift like clouds—Hemingway and Argüelles do a marvelous job reinforcing the latter effect—but Hersch helps ground and focus them. Free Flying (Palmetto), where Hersch duets with guitarist Julian Lage, is a decidedly crisper and more melodic outing, and in this case Hersch composed most of the material—some of these cozy, crystalline pieces he originally wrote for guitarists Bill Frisell, Egberto Gismonti, and Jim Hall, as well as for pianist Art Lande. But even the album’s relatively familiar covers (it includes treatments of the Sam Rivers standard “Beatrice” and Monk’s “Monk’s Dream”) privilege the rapport between him and Lage over the tune itself. When Hersch plays with Hebert and McPherson, they stick more closely to conventional roles, but the relationships they’ve cultivated within their trio are just as nuanced as anything on Free Flying. —Peter Margasak $25-$30, $45 for VIP.
Reedist Paquito D’Rivera first made his name as an improviser, helping forge the template for modern Latin jazz as a member of Cuban band Irakere in the 70s. Since defecting from his homeland in ’81 he’s broadened his repertoire, playing straight-up postbop, tango, and Brazilian regional and historical styles. He demonstrates a distinctive feel for Brazilian music on his latest album, Song for Maura (Sunnyside), a lively session cut with Sao Paulo’s spry Trio Corrente; it showcases the reedist’s fluidity with old-school chorro and the Pernambuco folk music called forro, among other forms. That pliability serves him well—in particular his smooth agility and clean tone on the clarinet are beyond compare. For this rare Chicago visit D’Rivera will be in jazz mode, working with a local rhythm section consisting of bassist Larry Gray, drummer Ernie Adams, and pianist Rick Ferguson, but it’s not just any pickup gig—the Kaia String Quartet, a Chicago group specializing in Latin American composers, will also be involved. This is the closing concert of 2013’s Chicago Latino Music Festival. —Peter Margasak $20