by Stamish Malcuss
Simon Sammut is a bassist, composer, arranger, producer and music teacher. Following-up his first album Bassic Attitude (2011), Sammut is back with an altogether different project that is a reflection of visual art and music for its fluid texture and inspiration. A journey through music and visual art – this is what Crossing, the new album offers the listener. Sammut’s goal was to blend space, form, beauty and color into one multi-dimensional artistic creation that explores the different types of ‘crossings’ that exist around us – physical, psychological and beyond. The musical score and complimentary paintings are based on a common theme of “crossing.” Crossing barriers and boundaries, physical or geographical, intellectual or psychological regarding moments in history, a story or cognitive states. The project touches upon several topical subjects, such as migration, mental health, technology, environment and diversity.
“The Tin Soldier” has a steady pulse from Tony Sammut at the piano, consistent with the theme of a courageous and steady soldier, Sammut plays a climbing melody on the bass. The B sections finds Melchior Busuttil playing a march pattern on the snare drum as Sammut continues with the melody that leads to a new theme by Tony. In the story of the Tin Soldier, the soldier remains steadfast throughout the entire story, whether just escaping from the toy-box, or in the street after a frightful fall from the window, and even in the final moments melting in the full glare of the hearth fire. Sammut’s robust melodic playing and writing captures this emotion with emphasis on the importance of bravery, especially when crossing boundaries, despite all odds. Sammut’s bass solo is melodic and his unique use of chords and double stops is consummate in his playing style.
“Promethean Man” again finds Sammut playing a bountiful upper register melody on his bass against his inventive chordal figure. Prometheus is a Titan in Greek mythology, best known as the deity who created mankind and stole fire from Mount Olympus to give to mankind. In the classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving and the quest for scientific knowledge. Busuttil’s programing is fresh and allows for Sammut to solo freely, playing with the time and building to a climax. Sammut’s chordal work is majestic and adds to the emotions of the track.
“Shades of Ember,” according to Sammut, “remind us of our own ‘crossing’ through life.” He does capture this in the melody and rock-ish feel of the composition. Mark Attard’s piano playing is the perfect backdrop for Sammut’s clear warm upper register playing on this track, and guitarist Marc Galea provides warm distorted sounds. When Galea solos, Sammut takes on the more traditional bass role, providing a solid big sound that anchors the band with a great feel with drummer Busuttil. Galea’s solo is fun and full of chromatic passages. Kris Spiteri’s melodica doubling with Sammut’s bass, on the melody are a nice orchestration touch.
Track Listing: The Tin Soldier’s Last Dance; Daruma Doll; Be the Change; Promethean Man; Crossing; Shades of Ember; Bell Ringer; Fifty Something; Frozen Glass; Frontier; When Stone Comes to Life; Princes of Serendip.
Personnel: Tony Sammut: piano; Mark Attard: piano; Melchior Busuttil: drums, percussion, programming; Marc Galea: classical, electric guitars; Jonathan Ellul: electric guitars; Kris Spiteri: melodica; Kevin Abela: trumpet; Ivan Borg: tenor saxophone; Godfrey Mifsud: baritone saxophone; Jesmond Azzopardi: bass, trombone; Marlene Sammut: voice; Simon Sammut: upright bass, electric basses.