Norway’s Cortex puts the fun in fire music | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Norway’s Cortex puts the fun in fire music


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Norwegian quartet Cortex play jazz music rooted in aesthetics that were crafted generations ago. You can hear the stop-start structures of Ornette Coleman’s classic recordings for Atlantic in trumpeter Thomas Johansson’s compositions, and there are hints of Albert Ayler’s hyperemotional tone in Kristoffer Berre Alberts’s saxophone asides. But they’ve honed an approach to this material that’s all their own. Ola Høyer’s elastic double-bass lines and Gard Nilssen’s about-to-boil drumming sustain a swinging velocity that is both nimble and energetic, and the group’s approach expresses an ebullience that justifies the name of their most recent album, Avant-Garde Party Music (Clean Feed). While the band aren’t above posing in goofy hats for the photo inside the record’s gatefold sleeve, they do not fool around when they play. The breakneck invention of the horn player’s solos and the grace with which the ensemble negotiate tonal shifts is loads of fun, and they’ve already got their eyes on the next party ahead; on this tour the group will be road-testing some new tunes.   v

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