Old Mountain feat. Tony Malaby
Pedro Branco piano | João Sousa drums | João Hasselberg doublebass | Hernâni Faustino doublebass | Tony Malaby tenor saxophone
Abiding friends and serial collaborators Pedro Branco and João Sousa scale an enchanting set of melodic, nostalgia-fuelled summits on Another State of Rhythm, their third long-player issued under the Old Mountain sobriquet.
After initially establishing themselves with an exhaustive run of enduring associations on Lisbon’s vibrant jazz scene, Branco and Sousa headed to the Netherlands in 2014 to further pursue their musical studies. It was here they formed Old Mountain, as a test bed for workshopping various modes of venturesome expression and compositional techniques, inviting an ever-alternating cast into their fold, observing practices of continual collaboration as the bountiful catalyst for creativity and invention.
The inaugural fruits of these alliances arrived in 2020, with Old Mountain dropping a brace of delightful digital-only releases; Parallels, a wistful hook-up with fellow countryman and trumpeter Gonçalo Marques, and the comparatively ardent, sporadically burly, This Is Not Our Music, alongside Nicolò Ricci, Mauro Cottone and George Dumitriu.
Old Mountain’s third full-length, Another State of Rhythm, sees Branco and Sousa shuffling the pack and shaking down the stimuli again. Inspired by his ivory-juggling heroes, Misha Mengelberg and Masabumi Kikuchi, Branco forgoes his trusty guitar for piano, abandoning himself entirely to the instinctive and unpredictable, his tumbling frisks enticing bouts of nerve-jangling peril amid the adroit lyricism of his colleagues. Elsewhere, Old Mountain pay homage to another formative influence with their own perennial standard, ‘Ballad For Paul’. This beautifully spare tribute, dedicated to drumming don and composer Paul Motian, encapsulates the ensemble’s melancholic sensibilities, jostling a sublime sedation illumined by moonlight and fraught with otherworldly tension.
On an audacious re-reading of Lead Belly’s ‘Irene (Goodnight Irene)’, the dual-basses of João Hasselberg and Hernâni Faustino commune and entwine, smouldering beneath Sousa’s magnificently restrained percussion and the smoke-fuelled noir-gasp of Tony Malaby’s tenor sax, conveying a timeless, elegiac beauty, momentarily endangered by the frenetic free-improv enquires of Branco’s keys. The traditional tune is turned inside out, the original melody jettisoned and disassembled before being gradually hauled back for a final hurrah.
With Another State of Rhythm, Old Mountain successfully navigate the crests and valleys of their idiosyncratic landscape, burnishing some of contemporary jazz’s more aggressive climes, while undaunted in their explorations of its trickier passages. The result is an absorbing collection, coolly scaling alluring heights, captivating senses and stealing hearts with its sensitivity, constituting an apogee of poise and restraint in its graceful, subtle, risk-taking play.
All compositions by Pedro Branco and João Sousa except “Goodnight, Irene” written by Huddie ‘Lead Belly’ Ledbetter
Recorded by Eduardo Vinhas at Namouche Studios on the 23rd of June 2023 | Mixed and mastered by Eduardo Vinhas at Golden Pony Studio
Produced by Old Mountain | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos | Photos by Nuno Martins
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