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The Core: Blue Sky (2006)

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The Core: Blue Sky How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Core is an exciting, highly energetic young band from Norway, consisting of Espen Aalberg (drums), Kjetil Møster (tenor, soprano saxophones), Erlend Slettevoll (piano) and Steinar Raknes (bass), with Nils Olav Johansen (guitar) sitting in. Drawing their inspiration from such '60s energy players as Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler and John Coltrane, these former schoolmates of the jazz academy in Trondheim have developed impressive technique and close collective cohesion. Blue Sky, their second release (following 2004's Vision), features a rock-edged, avant-acoustic sound that manages, despite the busyness, to leave breath and space.

Playing with fiery finesse, the group easily navigates the rhythmic subtleties of Aalberg's tunes: "Cavemans Blues is an incessant eleven-beat cycle, "Shoot the Evil Dog has odd-length bars phrased in three, and "Indian Song rolls along like a seven-spoked wheel with a flat spot on the rim. Maestro Møster evinces a solid tone over the range of his (s)axes, particularly in the altissimo register, where his overblown lines, laced with frenzied filigree, smolder with controlled intensity. Slettevoll plays with great chops, allowing his phrasing to loosen up around the edges without losing feel; Johansen adds a tonal palette of open-string resonance, clustered chords, slow-echoed tremolos, and rapid baroque arpeggios; and Raknes contributes a sensitive solo coda to his composition "Illiman Dance.

At Bar 4, on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, The "Core -tet (sans guitar) was in the Apple: taking advantage of the Rhodes electric piano and rock drum kit furnished by the "house, and spurred on by a small but sympathetic congeries of Park-Slopers, the Norsemen met the occasion with a rawer rendition of their passionately precise sound.

Track Listing: Cavemans Blues; Illiman Dance; Blue Sky, Blue Eyes; Shoot the Evil Dog; Indian Song.

Personnel: Espen Aalberg: drums; Kjetil Mster: tenor & soprano saxes; Erlend Slettevoll: piano; Steinar Raknes: bass; Nils Olav Johansen: guitar.

Record Label: Jazzaway

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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