Old Mountain is the duo of Portuguese close friends and serial collaborators pianist-guitarist-composer Pedro Branco and drummer-composer João Sousa (who also collaborate in the Branco toca Marco Paulo Project) who wanted to offer sets of melodic, nostalgia-fuelled music with an ever-alternating cast of guest musicians. Another State of Rhythm is the third album of the duo, and features American tenor sax hero Tony Malaby, and fellow Portuguese double bass players João Hasselberg (who recorded before two albums with Branco) and Hernâni Faustino (who recorded before an album with Sousa). The album was recorded at Namouche Studios in Lisbon in June 2023.
Old Mountain was always a test bed for various modes of musical expressions and compositional techniques while using the guest musicians as a catalyst for creativity and invention. Another State of Rhythm was inspired by Branco and Sousa’s love for the late pianist heroes Misha Mengelberg and Masabumi Kikuchi, and on this album, Branco focuses only on the piano. The album features homage to another, late hero, «Ballad For Paul» for Paul Motian.
Another State of Rhythm opens with a surprising yet soulful and elegiac re-reading of another hero, Lead Belly’s traditional «Goodnight, Irene» (including a secret reprise of the piece at the end of the album). This piece establishes the dynamics of this ad-hoc quintet, with the free piano playing of Branco, Sousa’s gentle percussive touches, Malaby’s caressing tenor sax, and the solid dual-basses work of Hasselberg and Hernâni. Old Mountain sounds as attempting to balance between the dadaist, subversive spirit of Mengelberg (check «All of Our Heroes» and «Freebus») and the sublime lyricism of Kikuchi (check the sparse and most beautiful ballad «Montanha» and the poetic «Ballad For Paul»). The album tends more to the impressionist and introspective pole and encapsulates Old Mountain’s melancholic sensibilities. You may get the feeling that you Old Mountain adapted and reshaped ECM’s Nordic jazz atmosphere to Portuguese sonic landscapes.
Pedro Branco (piano), João Sousa (drums), João Hasselberg (double bass), Hernâni Faustino (double bass), Tony Malaby (tenor saxophone)