By Nate Chinen
The Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen is best known for his work with the three-piece bands Puma and Bushman’s Revenge, which put a gnarly twist on jazz-rock, driven by distorted electric guitars. “Firehouse” (Clean Feed), his sanguine debut as a leader, features a trio pointedly named Acoustic Unity, with the saxophonist André Roligheten and the bassist Petter Eldh, two more busy players on the European circuit. (Mr. Roligheten, from Norway, is a member of the improvising duo Albatrosh; Mr. Eldh, from Sweden, works in a trio led by the British pianist Django Bates.) Mr. Nilssen and his partners make a respectable free-bop ruckus, earthy and often swinging. Though it’s a drummer’s band, Mr. Roligheten grabs the ear as a soloist, especially on tenor saxophone, which he plays with a gusty fluency. The tunes are sturdy constructions, and the band muscles through them with a clear grasp of precedent, evoking some Sonny Rollins here, some Peter Brötzmann there — and on the closing track, “Life, Somewhere Before the Exit Sign,” the late-1960s Keith Jarrett Trio.