Various Artists

When I think of Jamie Callum, I think of stations like Smooth FM and people who say ‘I like jazz, my favourite is Jamie Callum’. It’s like the (let’s leave them unnamed) musicians, hyped by their record company as classically trained opera singers, who thought of Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat as an opera. I’ve not a lot of time for the cheeky chappy, despite his raging popularity amongst the chattering classes. Thankfully, there are only two Jamie tracks here – the idea is for him to show us his influences and an inside view of his tastes. And his tastes are all over the place. Let’s see….

The lovely Nina Simone opens proceedings. And thank God it’s not THAT song.
We get some whisper-voiced samba.
Mark Murphy’s chat is fun…once.
The annoyingly cute Jamie pops up here with a tedious, sub-Kate Nash tale of some nonsense, sung in a ‘jazz-lite’ styl-ee.
Laurent Garnier has dressed up some House to a decent track.
Quasimotos take the curious route of just listing jazz legends’ names to recite over some scratching. Curiously pointless.
The fabulously quirky Mingus saves the day, showing more jazz in his bass-playing fingers than Jamie has in his body. And Mr Callum would, I’m sure, admit that.
We are straight back to the irritation of Jamie Callum boopy-do-ing the old standard, After You’ve Gone.
A bit of Donovan is surprisingly apposite.
Elbow make a lovely swampy stomp.
Roots Manuva spoils a Cinematic Orchestra track.
Herbie Hancock’s distinctive and lifting piano battles some electronic bleeps in one of those curious attempts to stay up to date that Herbie is prone to.
The acceptable face of Drum and Bass – Roni Size – weighs in with a cut up of an old Grace Jones lick.
Pharrell Williams drops in to add some hate. Yuk.
The Bad Plus are a breath of fresh air. Reminiscent of other modern jazz trio, MMW, they show a wit absent elsewhere.

From which we surmise that Jamie Callum has a wide-ranging taste. There is some objectionable dross here, a few gems and a couple of masters. It doesn’t add up to a cohesive compilation, flowing from one idea to the next. You know - when you’re making a tape or CD for a friend and one record sparks of an idea that inspires your choice of the next one on the mix. There’s none of that here.
And the sad thing here is that I’d choose half a dozen of these over hearing Mr Callum play.

Ross McGibbon