Catching Jamie

By |2006-03-16T09:00:00-05:00March 16th, 2006|Entertainment|

ROYAL OAK – Everybody wants a story to tell, and for those who have seen Grammy-nominated jazz upstart Jamie Cullum live in concert, that story usually starts with, “I saw the most amazing show the other night…”
Cullum isn’t your usual jazz artist. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter has garnered a loyal following with his blend of pop, jazz, rock, swing and everything in between. His 2004 breakthrough release “Twentysomething” had a mix of classics like “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” covers of modern tunes like Radiohead’s “High and Dry” and The Neptune’s “Frontin'” and Cullum originals like the title track and the pensive “All At Sea.”
Cullum’s latest release, “Catching Tales,” picks up where “Twentysomething” left off and showcases a young performer both settling into and branching out of his element. While “Catching Tales” includes a few standards like “I Only Have Eyes For You,” the bulk of the record was written or co-written by Cullum. The satirical “7 Days To Change Your Life” was inspired by a late-night infomercial for self-help CDs. “London Skies” was written for Cullum’s Brazilian girlfriend to help her see beauty in the city’s climate. The funky opening track and first single, “Get Your Way” was written with San Francisco producer and DJ Dan the Automator.
Is Cullum intentionally distancing himself from playing the standards? Well, yes and no. “When I made ‘Twentysomething,’ not a lot of people where doing that,” he says. “But it’s become a little bit more popular in the last two years, so it immediately has less of an interest to me.”
But Cullum still considers himself a jazz artist. “Jazz is the greatest platform to do whatever you want. People ask why I play jazz. It’s because you can take it to so many different places. You can embrace dance music, rock, pop music, classical, funk, everything,” he says. “And I touch on all those things in this record.”
He’s also not at all apologetic to jazz purists. “The way I like to approach music is to mix things ’round and, fortunately, I like to mix it with things that people find a bit more familiar. I love pop music so I mix jazz and pop music. Not because I want to make it accessible but because it’s music that I enjoy.”
And nothing illustrates Cullum’s love for the music he plays more than his high-energy live shows. “The only way you get the energy to tour the world and do all the hard work is to love the music you make,” he says. Cullum’s stage show has earned him accolades in publications worldwide.
“Cullum tackles the genre with a preciousness and energy that takes no prisoners, using the piano almost as a percussive instrument and taking off on wild chordal interludes that reinterpret his melodies with an invigorating sense of freedom,” raved the Telegraph.
The Los Angeles times said his live set contrasts “galvanizing energies with touching intimacies.”
“He plays every show as if nobody’s more grateful and amazed to be there than he is,” said The Guardian.
For Cullum, it’s all about having fun.
He told Jazz Times last year, “My ambition whenever I walk on stage is to have a really f–king good time.”
And it shows.

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