Live In New York (Clean Feed)


Released July 12, 2016

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review




On Cortex second release with Clean Feed Records you’ll find them again in the best context possible: in concert. Considering that the band works in the tradition pioneered by Ornette Coleman, this concert recording has a special significance, because it took place in the world capital of jazz, New York.
The approach may be somewhat European, but the music registered here seemed (and seems) at home. Critics wrote at the occasion that Cortex is walking the same routes where we can find John Zorn’s Masada. This means the music is energetic and robust, with a frenetic rhythm section and a trumpet / sax frontline very exact when delivering unisons and counterpoints and free in the improvised solos. The music is simultaneously heavy and agile, flowing as a bird of prey in open air, and defying gravity. A must have, must listen!

Track Listing:

1. Higgs (Thomas Johansson) 07:55

2. Fall (Thomas Johansson) 07:04

3. Ghost March/Ahead (Thomas Johansson) 20:25


Thomas Johansson: trumpet

Kristoffer Alberts: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone

Ola Høyer: bass

Gard Nilssen: drums

Recorded live September 18, 2015, at IBeam, Brooklyn, by Randy Thaler

Mixed by Ingar Hunskaar

Mastered by Fridtjof Lindemann and Ingar Hunskaar

Produced by Cortex

Executive Production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul

Design by Travassos


Global warming is a reality, folks, and it’s melting the lingering notion that Scandinavian jazz is a chilly thing. This young Norwegian quartet plays music rooted in the first generation of free-jazz with a collective combustion that could liquefy snowdrifts. The compositions on this live CD, which were penned by trumpeter Thomas Johansson, display the stop-start structures of Ornette Coleman’s Atlantic recordings. If you harbor affection for that music, you might be glad to hear some of its virtues embraced by people who were born 20 years after it was made. Still, the combo isn’t reviving anything. For a start, everyone else in the band has a personal approach to his instrument that references sources outside Coleman’s bands. Saxophonist Kristoffer Alberts shuttles easily between alto and tenor here, displaying on both a burly tone and wood-chipping attack that amp up the intensity, but also a fluency that makes his solos worth following from start to end. Drummer Gard Nilssen lashes his cymbals and toms as though he were auditioning for another remake of Ben-Hur, and he breaks things up with bass-drum bombs that would make Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette smile with recognition. But he never loses control of the music’s pace. Bassist Ola Høyer’s pulsing lines are not only propulsive but also buoyant; he is responsible for moments when “Ghost March/Ahead,” the epic performance that takes up over half of this album, seems to glide just above the earth. The combo shows how it is possible to survey and digest decades of musical precedent and come up with something that feels lived rather than studied.

Bill Meyer (DownBeat)