Massimo Sammi: First Day (2009)
Massimo Sammi's debut draws inspiration from the 2001 motion picture A Beautiful Mind, based on the life of mathematician John Nash. The album's theme is implemented, as the guitarist describes in his liner notes, by Sammi's "musical storyboarding of the film," based on Nash's experiences and theories. While the music's background, which includes free jazz improvisation, is intellectually stimulating, it's thankfully not as complex as Nash's equations in differential geometry.
The supporting cast of talented musiciansveterans George Garzone on saxophones and John Lockwood on bass, rising drummer Yoron Israel, and singer Dominique Eadearticulate Sammi's celluloid interpretations of the film: the serenity in the title, a lively upbeat groove in "Encryption," and an underlying tension in "Prisoner's Dilemma #1 - Be Quiet." The musicians envision these varied moods perfectly, as evinced by Garzone's clamorous reed doubling on the dichotomous "Prisoner's Dilemma #2 - Rat Out."
A native of Genoa, Italy, who studied jazz composition at the New England Conservatory, Sammi is a particularly adept technician whether swinging on electric guitar or accompanying Dominique Eade's lovely voice on acoustic guitar on "Ice Cream and Tears, Please." The group interaction is exceptional on "Hallways," where each instrument accentuates the melody. Garzone's alto is soothing while Lockwood's bass provides a commanding spot as Israel's gentle traps add detail. Sammi's chops shift from thoughtful, warm comps to open soloing. "Disappeared Friends," another duo with Eade, closes the set, an enigmatic and cinematically-inclined conclusion to this auspicious debut.
Track Listing: First Day; Encryption; Prisoner's Dilemma #1 - Be Quiet; Prisoner's Dilemma #2 - Rat Out; Ice Cream and Tears, Please; Hallways; Disappeared Friends.
Personnel: Massimo Sammi: guitars; George Garzone: saxophones; John Lockwood: bass; Yoron Israel: drums; Dominique Eade: voice.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz