Portuguese alto sax player Hugo Costa collaborates regularly with German drummer Philipp Ernsting. Both reside in Rotterdam and play together in the trios Anticlan (with guitarist Josué Amador) and Albatre (with bassist Gonçalo Almeida). Their first duo album The Art of Crashing was recorded at Studio SanteBoutique in Rotterdam in 2020, and obviously, refers to the long and dynamic lineage of free jazz sax-drums duos.
The thoughtful, resourceful and energetic Costa and Ernsting are well-versed in this seminal lineage but want to suggest their own perspective on such dialogs, based on their own close mutual understanding and immediate and organic dynamics. And both Costa and Ernsting also share a similar conception of rhythm and its many forms – layered, pulse-free, abstract, playful, or a slow-cooking and percolating one, often shape-shifting within the same improvisation, and especially on the three extended improvisations. They keep feeding each other’s with loose melodic ideas and rhythmic patterns, trusting the other’s to develop them further and deeper. This meeting leaves enough space for the individual voices of Costa and Ernsting but also highlights their assertive power as a duo.
Land Over Water features the free improvising trio of alto sax player Costa, with veteran Dutch double bass player Raoul van der Weide, who adds percussion objects, and young Dutch drummer Onno Govaert. Both van der Weide and Govaert played together in a trio of another Portuguese alto sax player, José Lencastre, as well with other Dutch musicians, and Govaert is a frequent collaborator of other Portuguese heroes like Rodrigo Amado (The Attic trio), Gonçalo Almeida (The Attic and Spinifex), Marcelo dos Reis and Luís Vicente (both play in In Layers quartet).
The debut album of the trio offers four pieces. The opening, 19-minute «Live at Noorse Kerke» is the first-ever piece that the trio played, live at the Noorse Kerke in Rotterdam. Costa leads this piece with a calm and melodic while employing fast multiphonics, and enjoying the spacious and highly inventive rhythm section of van der Weide and Govaert, with their free, propulsive pulses that keep Costa out of any comfort zones. The following three pieces were recorded at Okapi Recordings studio in Rotterdam and solidified the trio’s dynamics. The short «Burning Toes», features van der Weide and Govaert suggesting different and unconventional rhythmic ideas. «Wortel Schieten» (making roots in Dutch) flirts with a loose groove and opts for fast and challenging cat-and-mouse games before the trio unleashes its intense rhythmic power. The last, title piece has a contemplative and lyrical, chamber atmosphere, but one that cements the organic, deep affinity of these creative improvisers.
Hugo Costa (as), Philipp Ernsting (dr), Raoul van der Weide (b, perc objects), Onno Govaert (dr)