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.