Jamie Cullum brings jazz to the forefront

It’s been four years since the music world has heard from Jamie Cullum, but he returns this year with his first solo album, “The Pursuit”, since 2006.

Cullum continues to bring jazz to the mainstream with this album, following in the footsteps of 2003’s “Twentysomething” and 2006’s “Catching Tales”. It’s a fourteen-track album with nine original tunes and five covers, recorded in Cullum’s Terrified Studios in London.

Of the covers, Rhianna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” will be most recognizable, if only by title. Cullum strips down the dance-club hit to a slow tempo drum, piano and solo-voice (and Michael Jackson sample has disappeared). Cullum’s rendition shows a remarkable ability to re-arrange even the poppiest of hits into his own creation. The stripped, slow down of the song has an intriguing quality that makes it one of the high points of the album.

Cullum does a good job of making jazz appetizing for the palette of a younger crowd that didn’t grow up on the standards of Cole Porter, Miles Davis or Nat King Cole, by blending it with a pop tempo and a contemporary singer-songwriter sensitivity, all the while staying loyal to his roots.

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Cullum’s originals like “You and Me Are Gone” push the tempo upwards; with a bit of Broadway dance twist. On paper, the mixture he puts together sounds like a calamity rather than a success but Cullum makes it work. While it certainly isn’t new, it’s something that isn’t being done today which makes it a contemporary revelation.

It won’t please everyone, but anyone looking to go outside the box and constructs of current top 40 will be pleasantly surprised with Cullum’s new effort. It’s classic meets modern and with Cullum at the helm, it feels like the two go good together

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