Sam Anning, Across A Field As Vast As One

by Sylvannia Garutch

Originally from Fremantle WA, Sam Anning is a bassist and composer that relocated to Melbourne, Australia, and has become an internationally sought-after bassist. Whilst undertaking a Bachelor of Jazz (Performance) degree at WAAPA, Anning became an indispensable fixture on the Western Australian jazz scene, eventually releasing his debut album as a band leader Sam Anning Quintet: Re-Turning Point (listenhearcollective) featuring Graeme Lyall AM and cello quartet WOOD. After successfully auditioning and receiving a scholarship to undertake a Masters of Music program at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, Anning soon relocated to New York City. There he became once again highly sought after among some of the greatest bass players in the world. He has performed with many international jazz greats including: Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner, Ari Hoenig, George Garzone, Gilad Hekselman, Greg Osby, and Charlie Haden.

His third album as a leader, Across A Field As Vast As One finds the bassist with an all-star Australian jazz cast to bring to life his mainly mellow, but still interesting compositions, featuring: trumpeter Mat Jodrell, saxophonists Julien Wilson and Carl Mackey, pianist Andrea Keller, and drummer Danny Fischer. The album presents eight Anning original compositions, with a diversity of feels and compositional form, the album is a very enjoyable listen.

“Sweethearts” has a laid-back gospel feel with a nice groove line from Anning. With Anning and Fischer setting the groove, the melody is played by the three horns. A seemingly memorable melody that has a nice tutti figure is developed, in addition to well-placed fills by the three horns. The groove is maintained as Wilson’s solo unfolds. Anning compositions have an organic flow and his ensemble writing is creative and well-orchestrated. Keller’s piano solo is melodic and builds on the theme of the composition.

“Talking Wall” starts with a contemporary classical tinged opening by the horns with the rhythm section layering in counterpoint. The contrapuntal writing on this selection is well done. Each line is well orchestrated and maintains a clear sonority. The feel settles into a medium straight-eight selection that allows everyone to dig in. This is a very strong compositional statement by Anning and shows his writing chops very nicely.

Overall Across A Field As Vast As One is a strong statement for the bassist, highlighting his weighty writing, and seamless playing.  He has assembled a well-versed ensemble that compliments his compositions, and conveys his ideas with emphasis.  For a third outing, this catapults Anning a step forward in his journey as a recognizable name in the bass field.

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