THE VINYL ANACHRONIST
by Marc Phillips
Simon Sammut & Omar Vazquez’s Gravity
This is a strange, dark and rainy weekend, full of excitement and anxiety because I’m about to head to Europe for the first time in my life in a few days. I’m finally attending my first Munich High-End show, after years of being an international importer and distributor and only getting off the continent once in that eight years. (Have I told you about my trip to Australia in 2015? That’s an in-joke.) Anyway, calming and meditative music is most welcome in my house as I plan for a busy week. Fortunately I have an intriguing new album from bassists Simon Sammut and Omar Vazquez, a dreamy set of smooth jazz instrumentals that merge with just enough electronica to land firmly on my good side.
Sammut is from Malta and Vazquez is from Mexico, and what they’ve done for Gravity is enlist the help of jazz and fusion musicians from their respective countries. The two bassists bonded on social media and eventually planned a project, this project, to fuse the two cultures musically. Together they worked on eight distinct and original compositions, and just a few weeks ago they performed Gravity live in Mexico. They released this album on the same day, April 12. A separate performance will be scheduled for Malta as well.
That’s always a good idea for a musical project, bringing together ideas from around the world–just look at the Zoho Music record label and how they create such rich and diverse recordings from the collision of two cultures. Gravity succeeds for the reasons you would guess, because the exotic combination of Maltese and Mexican sensibilities creates a wonderful sound that deftly jumps between world music, jazz and fusion.
In a way this album reminds me of that exquisitely odd album from Somesh Mathur late last year, Time Stood Still, and how there are giddy discoveries around every corner. In particular, both Sammut and Vazquez have recruited two amazing drummers–David Caspeta and Melchior Busuttil–to play the same astonishing role as Gergo Borlai on Mathur’s album. While Gravity is mainly about the bass players and how they’ve developed these compositions around this pairing, you may walk away thinking primarily about the wonderful drumming, the globally inspired rhythms, and the way the two bass players stretch this out into a succinct and fascinating exploration of two rich musical cultures.