A real treat to kick off our latest batch of House Concerts.
Manchester guitarists Mike Walker and Stuart McCallum both have international reputations – Mike for his work with The Impossible Gentlemen and Stuart with The Cinematic Orchestra. They’ve known each other for nearly 20 years when Stuart was Mike’s student. They bumped into each other again a couple of years back and picked up where they’d left off, recording their first album Beholden and starting to gig together across the UK.
Their playing is beautiful and Mike is a great story teller…ask him to tell the one about the coin operated TV. They’ll give us a very special evening.
“Quiet but compellingly lyrical music.” The Guardian
“Grey skies and rain-soaked red bricked terraces as seen through a cosy cup of hot, sweet tea.” Jazzwise
Here’s a recording of the duo playing the title track from Beholden.
Stuart performing ‘Breathe‘ with The Cinematic Orchestra at the Barbican Centre back in 2007.
Mike performing ‘Laughlines‘ with his band The Impossible Gentlemen.
You can listen to Beholden on Spotify and you’ll be able to buy a copy on the 18th for £2 less than Amazon are selling it!
Mike and Stuart are both best known for their work on electric guitar. However, for this new duo they use four different acoustic guitars to re-imagine and re-sculpt their own original compositions and some well-known jazz standards into fresh shapes. Walker and McCallum admit to shared Influences from Pat Metheny to Bill Frisell, Bon Iver to Jerry Douglas and Gerald Finzi to Kelly Joe Phelps, and by embracing each other’s musicality and wealth of experience they evoke a combination of chilled-out bliss and sublimated yearning, creating music that is a balm for the soul.
Highlights from the album include Walker’s ever-popular composition Clockmaker, which was written for saxophonist Iain Dixon’s father, who was a clockmaker. The contrasting arrangements of the well-known standard When I Fall in Love showcase the guitarists’ differing styles – from Walker’s harmonically complex improvised accompaniment in Part I, to McCallum’s folk influenced arrangement in Part II that wouldn’t sound out of place on the BBC4 Transatlantic Sessions. The title track, Beholden, demonstrates the duo’s ability to create exquisite melodies and textures with just two acoustic guitars. Throughout the album, the duo explore space, spontaneity and beauty to create intelligent camp-fire music that is characterised by focus and restraint.
Most acclaimed as the guitarist for The Impossible Gentlemen, Mike is an internationally respected guitarist and teacher, having performed and recorded with many of the leading jazz musicians of today, including Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs, George Russell, Vince Mendoza and John Taylor. His debut album ‘Madhouse and the Whole Thing There’ was released in 2008 – ‘a soaringly confident piece of idiosyncratic contemporary fusion.’ (The Guardian). Also in 2008, Mike was commissioned to write ‘Ropes‘, a suite for a 22 piece string orchestra and jazz quintet. This was performed at the RNCM in Manchester to a packed theatre, receiving a standing ovation. The Impossible Gentlemen, (Mike Walker, Gwilym Simcock, Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum), released their second album in 2013 and are currently touring to promote the release.
Best known as the guitarist for The Cinematic Orchestra, Stuart has performed internationally with and contributed to the writing of the band’s critically acclaimed albums ‘Ma Fleur’ and ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall‘. As a solo artist, Stuart has released 4 albums. ‘Distilled‘, Stuart’s third solo album, was released in 2011 – ‘this record is a stunning, self assured work that showcases someone who has mastered their trade and is completely comfortable with his style.‘ (AAA music). The 40 date European tour that followed the release of the album, culminated in the recording and release of Stuart’s fourth solo album, ‘Distilled Live’, on NaimLabel in November 2012. Stuart has performed and recorded with some of the most prominent jazz artists of today, including Ari Hoenig, Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, Mike Gibbs, Gwilym Simcock, and Tim Garland. As well as lecturing part time at Leeds College Of Music, Stuart is currently collaborating with UK drummer and producer Richard Spaven on a follow-up album to Distilled, and writing and producing an album with Irish folk singer Rioghnach Connolly.