Lewis McCallum: Wake (RM)

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Lewis McCallum: It's You
Lewis McCallum: Wake (RM)

Young Auckland saxophonist McCallum -- son of singer Malcolm -- adopts exactly the approach he should for someone his age: he comes out of the post hip-hop/clubland culture and so is entirely at home with programmed beats, soul-funk clubland styles, and has been working with those who share a similar sensibility.

(He was in Relaxomatic Project, has toured with Opensouls and Mark de Clive-Lowe, gets big ups from Nathan Haines, played on Hollie Smith's album and so on.)

The interesting thing about this upbeat but cool-mood album is not that McCallum seems to do most things himself (drum programmes, various saxes, clarinets, some vocals, flute, keyboards) but how he allows himself to almost guest on his own album: vocalists Cherie Mathieson, Tyra Hammond and rapper Bjorn Petersen from Opensouls, and Tama Waipara are all handed generous time in the spotlight.

It makes for an album which effectively marries the techno-substructures with warm human voices. And while this is very much of the now it does, like so much of "the now", look back to earlier times: here are snatches of 80s funk-fusion, old school soul with its positivity messages, and so on. McCallum also delivers some very classy arrangements (It's You reminds you he also spent time in the Queen City Big Band and in Rodger Fox bands) so he covers a lot of territory here.

The album title is telling: it could be read as a call to those who are asleep, but I suspect it works equally well as something of his he might leave others trailing in.

Very impressive all round. 

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