Jazz artist Jamie Cullum stays true to form on latest album

Published: Friday, July 09, 2010, 11:39 AM
The Birmingham News

Jamie Cullum is a really big star in England.

The singer-songwriter-jazz artist’s records routinely are best sellers, and in 2003, he became the all-time best-selling jazz artist in the United Kingdom.

Add to that his longtime relationship with model Sophie Dahl (he married the granddaughter of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal in January), and you’ve got yourself a media star.

Right now, though, he’s more worried about a party.

“My very best friend’s 30th birthday is this evening, and I promised I’d get some sort of music together,” he says. “I’m running out of time.”

Still, he takes a few minutes to discuss his upcoming U.S. tour, which comes to the Alys Stephens Center on Saturday night. It’s in support of his late 2009 release “The Pursuit.”

And though “The Pursuit” is his latest album, you can’t ever be sure what Cullum will do in concert.

“It’s still really very much open,” he says. “We still operate without a set list and try to not play the same thing every night. No one, including the band, knows what I’m going to play. I’ll probably focus a little bit more on this new album, though.”

“The Pursuit” is the fourth major-label album from the 30-year-old Cullum, following “Pointless Nostalgic,” “Twentysomething” and “Catching Tales.”
Like the others, “The Pursuit” is a mix of old and new, including classics by the likes of Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim, a Cullum-ized version of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” and, of course, some original material.

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“I’m always, always listening to new things,” he says. “ I like electronic music, pop music, jazz music. I really have no boundaries.”

Cullum confirms that part of “The Pursuit” was recorded in an unlikely spot — his kitchen.

“Yes, the famous kitchen with the piano,” he says. “It’s a little upright kind of up against the wall next to the fridge. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I love to cook and eat. And I just thought, God, it would be great to have a piano in there.”

He calls newlywed life “fantastic,” although “it’s tough because I’m traveling so much. But we’ve been together awhile, and I’ve toured a lot in that time, so we’ve made it work.” He’s eager to begin his month-long stint in the U.S.

“Touring the States is a really, really fun experience because I’ve always found that U.S. audiences really enjoy their live music. It’s part of the genetic makeup of Americans, I think, to go see and enjoy live music.”

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