Lewis McCallum: Wake
By Martyn Pepperell
A good album that could have easily been a great album. I’m going to cut straight to the chase here, the drum programming on the majority of the songs is little metronomic to really sit with the beautiful fluidity of the rest of the instrumentation and vocals. Then again Lewis McCallum is primarily known as a saxophonist, so this shouldn’t be that surprising. That small flaw aside, there is some stunning work on this debut release. McCallum is a virtuosic jazz multi-instrumentalist/electronic beatsmith, with some very impressive friends. Local vocalists Tama Waipara, Tyra Hammond, Bjorn and the legendary Cherie Mathieson (my favourite Kiwi singer) all roll though, delivering smoking performances over McCallum’s beats, and the rest of album is left for him to shine as a player and instrumental arranger. McCallum also applied his considerable talents to recording and producing, with a little help from Toni Economides and Submariner on the mixing, and mastering by Simon Holloway. In my ears though Lewis McCallum’s true strength lies in the successful fusion of the improvisational nature of jazz with modern beats, electronics and grooves.