Photo credit: Jenny Berger Myhre

”No Scandinavian group since Atomic has so powerfully addressed and remade the free jazz of the 60s like Cortex. In a country whose creative music scene is celebrated for its bold hybrids of disparate sounds, Cortex goes another way, embracing tradition in its own unique way, with a personality sketched out by the strength of Johansson’s indelible themes and four distinctive improvisational voices.” – Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

Thomas Johansson – trumpet , Kristoffer Berre Alberts – saxophone, Ola Høyer – double bass, Dag Erik Knedal Andersen – drums





A couple of words from Clean Feed about the record:

Free jazz? Well, not exactly. This quartet from Norway took that tradition as a basis, but the original African-American free jazz never sounded like this. The magazine Jazzwise chose better words to describe Cortex’s blasts of energy: «Avant-garde party music». Instead of the pathways to spiritual ascension, or the revolt against the Man, Thomas Johansson, Kristoffer Berre Alberts, Ola Høyer and Gard Nilssen play music to party to and to be joyful, and that’s also political and sacred in these times of suffering, hatred and disbelief. The composed themes are simple and with no ornaments, giving to the improvised developments all the needed space and all the complexity we like to hear in creative music. The pieces are intense, dramatic and noisy, inviting you to move your body and constantly defying your mind and your soul. Do you remember when Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, or John Zorn and Dave Douglas, played together? Cortex is that next thing you were waiting for…

All compositions by Thomas Johansson (TONO), except 10-4 by Ola Høyer (TONO) | Arrangements by Cortex

Recorded by Bård Ingebrigtsen at Amper Tone Studios 20. – 22. November 2019 | Mixed by Bård Ingebrigtsen January 2020 | Mastered by Fridtjof Lindemann at Strype Audio, February 2020
Produced by Cortex | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos


Cortex is a spirited combo that plays energetic jazz of the finest brand. With over three hundred live-performances and five albums, the quartet positions itself as one of the strongest additions to the Norwegian jazz scene. The members are amongst the most sought after young jazz performers in Norway today. They all have marked their position in several other constellations such as:  PNL Large Unit, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Zanussi 5, Friends & Neighbors, Honest John, Gard Nilssen Supersonic Orchestra and Moon Relay.

 After extensive touring in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Portugal , USA, Russia and Japan, Cortex released their fifth album ‘Avant-garde Party Music’on the Portuguese label Clean Feed Records in 2018 and were bestowed with praise by international critics:


« It sizzles with a barely contained energy, one that has yet to be harnessed or become world-weary.» 

– 4,5 of 5 stars from Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz 

« The music is simultaneously heavy and agile, flowing as rushing river and receives the highest possible recommendation.»

– Tim Niland, Music and More

« 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.»

– 4,5 of 5 stars from Bill Meyer, Downbeat Magazine

About Legal Tender:

Klassekampen by Chris Monsen 4,5/6★

“Legal Tender er nok derfor noe mindre dynamisk, men musikken fascinerer heller der den utfolder seg mer gradvis.” by Sebastian Chosiński 

“The Norwegian quartet has recorded another excellent album, which in this difficult time brings a lot of joy (although it is not always optimistic). Well, good and valuable music is always needed. And it will always defend itself.” (translated from Polish)


“This again yields a beautiful and inspired jazz album that, despite the lack of real surprises, can be found spinning in the CD-player remarkably often. This is what is called trusted quality.” (translated from Dutch)