Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Stuart McCallum
WORKS: Distilled
PERFORMER: Stuart McCallum (gt), Ira Coleman and Robin Mullarkey (bass), Rachael Gladwin (harp), Dave Walsh (drums) etc
CATALOGUE NO: Naim Naimcd69


Manchester-based guitarist Stuart McCallum has risen to prominence in the Cinematic Orchestra, a group already known for its ambient jazz soundscapes. This is his third release as a headliner and the title Distilled is deliberately apt, as his approach to music-making hangs somewhere between jazz and electronica. Taking elements of contemporary dance music production, he builds up a yearning atmosphere of improvised guitar soloing. For some jazz listeners the result may be a bit taxing, weighed down by its very weightlessness. The emphasis on building soundscapes requires a listener’s patience, and while there are some straight-in highlights – such as ‘Hillcrest Pt 2’ and shades of Bill Frisell on opener ‘Dr Doctor’ and elsewhere – the improvised pay-offs can take a while. That said, its an album that’s worth investing time in. ‘Part 3’ stands out, taken from a festival piece written for John Surman. Neil McKim