Cucumber by Sammy Haig is much more than just an EP released after the pandemic as a way of coping with the struggles we all faced. Instead, it is a multimedia project that consists of the six tracks of the EP, videos for each and drew in a staggering 73 remote collaborators. This has all come together for a subtle yet beautiful integration of soul, funk and jazz injected into a pop soundscape.
The project started with Haig’s final recital to complete his degree and has ended with a fully realised creative extravaganza. While the ambitious project of one man, the EP is a stepping stone on his journey and really showcases the creativity and musical prowess that he wields with flair. With sounds that pick listeners up after the pandemic, Haig and his collaborators let you know that nothing can keep them down.
‘Dreaming Of’ opens the EP with a gentle piano line and soulful vocals. There is a touch of RnB to the vocals that smoothly slide into your soul and ease any rough edges it comes across. The trumpet that calls out against the vocals is wonderful and leads you to the blended horns. The track has a delightful blend of sounds that is utterly decadent and makes you want to listen to it on repeat. It is also the perfect opening to the EP as it brings a hint of what is to come. Haig’s trumpeting skills are on full display in this track and brings a delightful interplay with the soulful vocals.
The soft piano makes a comeback to open ‘Will I See You Tomorrow?’ which has a much softer feeling to the opening track. There is a jazzy undertone to the song that the female vocals float over. The horns are subtle in the background creating a swirl of fog around your ankles as the vocals wisp over your skin. There is a very delicate feeling to this track that lets you sink into the soundscape and just breathe. Through all of this is a sense of longing and a bright hope for the future.
The title track ‘Cucumber’ brings a big band vibe to the tack with the tapping opening and horns. The tapping opening marches you forward into the light of the horns that shine with a golden edge. There is a dynamic texture to the music that puts a smile on your face and has you wondering where the song will go next. Mixed into the big band vibes is a touch of jazz and soul that really hits with the trumpet. When the guitar makes itself known, it brings a vibrant change to the soundscape like the sun reaching out over the horizon. This is an amazing instrumental track that is an absolute pleasure to listen to.
The next track is ‘Doesn’t Feel Like Summer’ that opens with a layered piano and trumpet line. These two instruments bring different feelings to the soundscape that contrast each other. The vocals have an electronic edge that is very different to the organic vibes of the instrumentation. This interplay of organic and electronic is amazing and handled with a masterful touch allowing it to sound so natural. It also perfectly creates a strange feeling of summer yet still brings an edge of chill. When the trumpet makes a second appearance, you are going to feel the urge to close your eyes and sway to the sound.
‘Dasher II’ creeps to life with electronic tones and cascading glitter before a really funky feeling grows through the soundscape. This funky feeling is rather undeniable and only becomes stronger when the horns join and get you tapping to them. The use of horns is unbelievable and something you wish you heard a lot more in mainstream music. The movement between the lower levels of the melody and the horns tells a story that moves from flowing slides to a tap of energy. Through all of this, the funky tones keep your body shimmying and swaying to the rhythm.
The EP comes to an end with ‘Basement Famous’ that opens with a soft tone that you almost strain to hear. It is like you have walked into a jam session that is just starting and everyone is getting comfortable. The music starts to build from this point and works its way into your veins with the tones of Haig’s trumpet. There is something soulful about the way he plays that makes you want to listen to him for a really long time. However, he also leads you into the feeling of wanting to see how the other instrumentation blends with his sound. While the longest track on the EP, the enjoyment and passion that is woven into each note makes it so easy to listen to and you will be shocked when it comes to an end.
Sammy Haig brings an addictive fusion of jazz, funk and soul to your ears while swinging from tapping tones to big band in Cucumber. Each track on the EP has its own flavour while highlighting the organic movements and Haig’s trumpet. As you listen, you may be asking where this type of music has been all your life.