Jamie Cullum And All That Jazz

By Han Wei Chou | Posted: 13 April 2010 1805 hrs

SINGAPORE: UK singer Jamie Cullum has released five critically acclaimed albums so far and was even nominated for Best Original Song for his work on Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood’s 2009 film “Grand Torino”.

That would be the boring way to describe Cullum (though it is all true). But who is the man behind the music?

Cullum is best described by the word ‘spontaneous’. The 31-year-old just goes with the flow when it comes to picking which song he would cover next and give the Jamie Cullum treatment to.

There is also no set list for his performances and the music he composes cannot be pigeonholed into any one ‘genre’, a term which Cullum derides as “a kind of journalistic term”, before explaining that modern music has such diverse elements that it becomes inaccurate to classify them under any one ‘genre’.

Cullum prefers to go where inspiration (and his imagination) takes him when it comes to creating new songs, fusing jazz with various other musical styles, ranging from pop, rock to hip hop.

It is this unpredictability and spontaneity that attracted him to jazz, and it is also what he believes attracts people to his music and his concerts.

“The spontaneity of jazz is what attracts me to it, its ability [to make] a song you play every night sound different every night,” said Cullum, during a press conference at the Mandarin Hotel on Monday for his sold-out concert in Singapore.

“It’s about giving a certain amount of reinvention to music every night, although that can lead to slightly unpredictable performances. It also means that there is a different level of excitement and unpredictability every night.”

While Cullum was all smiles and happy to talk about his new album, music and career, his marriage to famous writer Doald Dahl’s granddaughter, former-model Sofia Dahl in January, was strictly off limits.

When asked about life after his marriage in January, Cullum clammed up and only uttered the words: “It’s very wonderful, thank you.”

The only other tidbit of personal information teased out of him during the press conference was about his drinking habits.

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Cullum has been known to drink beer while performing, claiming that it helps his vocal cords. But does he only drink for his work or for pleasure as well?

The answer came as quite a surprise. Well, not so much because he indirectly admits that he does drink, but because he sometimes gets drunk and exhibits some unusual behaviour.

“I do two things when I get drunk, I hug people and I climb trees, yeah, you can normally find me up some kind of oak tree kind of just hanging out, being happy. I am a happy drunk and not an aggressive drunk or unpleasant drunk,” he said.

The singer went on to disprove his earlier statement as he hesitantly described the strangest thing he has ever done while drunk.

“I think I remember being in Atlantic City once, just decided to go for a swim at 4am in the morning [while drunk]. That was pretty stupid, because I had my passport with me,” he said.

“It would have actually been better had I decided to go skinny-dipping because at least my passport would have stayed on the beach. But in fact, I went in and had a swim in my clothes and my passport went floating away, probably to Australia or something.”

So while tickets to Cullum’s Singapore concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Tuesday are sold out, fans might want to try their luck trawling Singapore watering holes or looking up in the trees for a glimpse of this vivacious star, before he jets off to Australia for his next concert.

Who knows, you might even get a hug.

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