Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jamie Cullum: Thirtysomething

Keeping the flame of inspiration stoked

Jamie Cullum
Jamie Cullum at the Blue Note, NYC, Sept. 2014
Jamie Cullum, Newport Jazz Festival, 2004
Jamie Cullum. Montreal International Jazz Festival 2009

When Jamie Cullum describes Interlude, his seventh studio album and first for the storied Blue Note Records, as his return to jazz, some might rightfully be tempted to wonder if he ever really left jazz behind. Although some previous releases by the mega-popular 35-year-old British vocalist and pianist have undeniably tilted toward pop, a jazz sensibility has never been far beneath the surface in Cullum’s music.

The most obvious difference between Interlude and Cullum’s previous recordings is that the new one marks the first time since Heard It All Before, Cullum’s 1999 self-released debut, that he’s eschewed original compositions completely. Instead, Cullum offers an eclectic set of songs including Randy Newman’s “Losing You,” Mark Murphy’s “Come and Get Me,” singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ “The Seer’s Tower,” Ray Charles’ “Don’t You Know,” Cannonball Adderley and Jon Hendricks’ “Sack O’ Woe,” the 1922-written “Lovesick Blues” (later a hit for Hank Williams) and a pair by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. Guest vocalists-Gregory Porter on an arrangement of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” inspired by Nina Simone’s version; British soul-jazz singer Laura Mvula on “Good Morning Heartache,” made famous by Billie Holiday-join Cullum for a pair of duets, while the title track is a faithful adaptation of “A Night in Tunisia.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published