Norway’s Cortex released its highly promising debut,Resection (Bolage), in 2011. The members of this high-octane quartet met during jazz studies in Trondheim, and began working as a band in 2007. Cortex follows the free jazz legacy of Ornette Coleman quartet with trumpeter Don Cherry, spicing it with wise, original compositions and uncompromising performances inspired by fellow powerful Scandinavian outfits such asAtomic, The Core and The Thing.
Cortex’s sophomore recording, Göteborg—named after the Swedish city where it was recorded—keeps this quartet in a fresh and kicking mood, the quartet still bursting with reckless energy. Trumpeter Thomas Johansson’s writing is strong, possessing a melodic touch anchored by the powerful rhythm section of bassist Ola Høyer and drummer Gard Nilssen. The band’s camaraderie excels with telepathic, tight interplay.
The album’s six compositions feature the group’s breadth of musical range. SaxophonistKristoffer Alberts (a member of Saka) and Johansson exchange confident and challenging solos which frame the unstoppable, muscular drive of “Nicotine.” The restless, rolling Nilssen leads his quartet mates into the territory of John Zorn‘s Masada quartet, following that group’s effortless, wild and energetic interplay and infectious sing-along melodies. The slow-burning “Endorphin” is a slow-burning piece featuring Johansson’s brilliantly charismatic solo—referencing Atomic trumpeter Magnus Broo‘s free and impressive phrasing—followed by Alberts’ soaring solo.
“Decibel” draws inspiration from Zorn’s cut-and-paste compositional techniques, alternating between massive rhythmic pattern and Johansson and Alberts’ short, focused eruptions. “Cerebrum” unfolds patiently around Johansson and Alberts’ emotional yet reserved solos, rooted by Nilssen and Høyer’s gentle, playful rhythm. The closing “Hub” has a loose structure that leaves room for Alberts and Johansson’s inspired, ferocious articulations, pushed by a tireless rhythm section.
Göteborg establishes Cortex as one of the greatest bands currently working in Norway.
Track Listing: Nicotine; virus; Endorphin; Decibel; Cerebrum; Hub.
Personnel: Thomas Johansson: trumpet; Kristoffer Alberts: saxophone; Ola Høyer: double bass; Gard Nilssen: drums.