2009/11/22/ Nov 22 2009 by Liz Lamb, Sunday Sun
JAZZ musician Jamie Cullum is back with his first solo album in four years and a UK tour. LIZ LAMB chats to him . . .
JAMIE Cullum is not your average jazz artist.
Not only has he managed to transcend into the pop charts, but the multi-talented singer/songwriter has worked with major stars such as Clint Eastwood, Kylie Minogue and hip hop artist Pharrell, performed work penned by Radiohead and Elton John and plays the piano, drums and guitar.
His personal life is also subject to scrutiny by the tabloids thanks to his well-documented relationship with supermodel Sophie Dahl.
Though Jamie says he lived his “20s to the fullest”, in recent years the up and downs of his personal and professional life have fuelled an even more powerful creative drive.
It is now four years since his last solo offering, but the singer is back with The Pursuit, a combination of his eclectic music tastes and enduring love of jazz and its timeless standards.
“In life, we pursue everything. Life is one long pursuit,” he says. “It took two conscious bouts of recording, I put it together over a long period of time. That was always my idea.
“My intention was not to get a record ready to release because as soon as you have finished it you then have to go out and publicise it and give over your life to it.
“Catching Tales and Twentysomething happened quite close to each other and I was on the road for six continuous years, which was magnificent fun, but I wanted to come home and take stock of what had happened.
“I have been able to spend time with friends and family, read, sit on the sofa, eat Chinese food, play football on a Tuesday night, go to the pub.
“I also played in other people’s bands and worked with other artists, I DJ’d, made dance music with my brother and travelled.”
He also found time to build his own studio, Terrified Studios, in London’s Shepherd’s Bush.
“I call it that because I am so unknowledgeable about technology that I’m usually terrified when I’m in there,” laughs Jamie.
Then there was his collaboration with Clint Eastwood. Jamie says: “He asked me to play at the Monterey Jazz Festival. He loved the performance and after the gig, he threw the script of Gran Torino at me and said, ‘I want you to write music for this’.”
Gran Torino (the song) with music by Clint Eastwood and Jamie, and lyrics by Jamie alone, was nominated for a Golden Globe.
“It was an extraordinary turn of events, recording the song, going to see the film being made, just amazing things.”
The Pursuit is a record that mixes his heritage with a selection of modern influences. Describing its sound Jamie moves from Cole Porter to Rihanna to Aphex Twin in the same sentence.
Jamie is a performer capable of delivering constant surprises with a talent elastic enough to evince a four-to-the-floor acoustic Ibiza song on the same record as a lushly recorded Jazz standard.
He says: “I spent a few months writing and I came up with 30 new songs and then I went to LA for two-and-a-half months to record 15 songs, then the following May I went back to LA to record three more songs.
“I think choosing the songs that would make the album is probably the hardest part, especially in this scenario.
“It had been quite a long time since I had put an album out, so I had amassed a vast selection of songs. It’s like choosing between your children.”
His personal happiness is at the heart of one of the album’s most important songs, Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down.
“I’ve never written a love song that didn’t have a joke in it before,” Jamie admits, “The only pure love songs I’d sang before that were by George Gershwin.”
Jamie will be hitting the road on tour next year to showcase songs from The Pursuit and will be stopping off at Newcastle City Hall on May 11, before further dates in the UK, US and Japan.
He says: “It’s going to be a good, old-fashioned world tour. I am looking forward to going to some interesting places. I like touring and performing, it’s the blood that runs through the veins. That’s the cherry on the cake.”
Jamie Cullum plays Newcastle City Hall on May 11 2010. Tickets are £32.50 and £40. For box office call 0191-261 2606 or visit www.newcastlecityhall.org The Pursuit on Decca Records is out now as is the first single from the album I’m All Over It.
I was on the road for six continuous years