Monday, September 17, 2018

Montalban Quintet's - "Kisses" a shape shifting creation between alt folk, jazz pop and psychedelia

The song Kisses by Montalban Quintet is a a kind of shape shifting creation that lies somewhere between alt folk and jazz pop, between folk fusion and psychedelia, between an intoxicating lost weekend and floating up to heaven. I thought of a strange hybrid of Ramin Djawadi, Radiohead, Sarah Jaffe, Pink Floyd and (even Judy Collins) coalesced together. Montalban Quintet is the avant classical, jazz and pop long running experiment put together by Pinback drummer Chris Prescott. It is from the new "Under The River" album. Kisses, somber yet beautiful and dark like bent reflections in black water.

Robb Donker 


Under the Riverthe forthcoming album from Pinback drummer Chris Prescott's Montalban Quintet will be released August 17 on  Belly of the Whale Records. For Prescott (touring drummer for Pinback since 2005 and performer/contributor with Jimmy Eat WorldRocket from the Crypt and more), completing the album after eight years of work caps a difficult and dark period resulting in a thrilling personal evolution.

"In 2014 had been chipping away at composing and working with the band," says Prescott. "But ended up putting everything on hold for two years as I uprooted my family to take care of my father who had become ill with Parkinson's disease. It was amazing to have that time with him, but it was also incredibly difficult. I no longer had a place to record music and work on the album completely halted. Sadly, a year later he passed and I decided it was time to begin anew. After months of work the new studio was done and the floodgates opened. I spent hundreds of hours working out the album, coaxing other members to record over a period of months. Finishing the album felt like the end of an extremely challenging period in my life."

For the Quintet, each time they take the stage is an element of risk. Yet the thrill of diving into landscapes where everything could as easily fall apart as coalesce remains the crucial spark that unites the longtime friends and collaborators. "Montalban Quintet is a place where I am completely honest in integrating the varied elements of my personality," says Prescott of the San Diego-based ensemble that is a spiritual center for the disparate elements of his career (student, sideman, leader, engineer/producer, punk rock fan, jazz enthusiast). 

Enlisted by Prescott to bring these slightly warped experimentations to life, Montalban members have chased the addictive freedom and creativity offered within the collaboration and its live shows. Performing and touring together at different points in Pinback over the past decade, Prescott (drums, vocals and additional guitar and piano) invited in Emmy award-winning composer Kenseth Thibideau (Sleeping PeopleHoward HelloTarentel) to hold down the bass and film and television composer Chris-Fulford-Brown to play keys. Next, having collaborated for almost 20 years with each of them, Julie Kitterman (percussion, vocals) and Greg Friedman (guitar, vocals) were natural additions.  Montalban’s heavily featured and pivotal horn section is a product of a lifetime of discovering, exploring and making music with brother Carl Prescott (trumpet) and Carl’s proclaimed telepathic musical relationship with Jim Weiss (saxophones). Carl has recorded with the Mattson 2 and various jazz groups and Weiss is the founding member of Big Time Operator and a jazz musician and educator. Finally,  Mike Stockalper (Mango Melody) was later pulled in to take on the majority of piano duties through a sustained connection while studying at the UCSD music school. Additional musicians on the album include Terrin Durfey (Bass, Vocals) of the iconic band Boilermaker and The Jade ShaderMarjorie Prescott (Cello), J.P. Hewett (Congas) and Pete Polansky (Violin).

For Prescott and the band, The Montalban Quintet is a culmination of interests and musical studies, a chance to combine musical talents but also a continual reunion of old friends. "As a drummer working on many projects, I’ve had to adapt into what is required, but when free to create from true expression the thing I would play is this,” confirms Prescott. "This is a joy."

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