It’s a deceptively warm Toronto afternoon in late March, the tantalizing promise of spring in the air not yet quite fulfilled. Rather perfect conditions, it seems, for the arrival of Jamie Cullum, in town for a whirlwind 24-hours of press-hopping and flesh-pressing.
In his native England, the 24-year-old singer-pianist is well established as the Next Big Thing. With three albums under his slender belt, he’s already ranked as the biggest-selling British jazz artist in that nation’s history. His U.K. concerts are sold out months in advance. He has, much to his chagrin, been hailed as “Sinatra in sneakers” and “the David Beckham of jazz.” Verve has shelled out ?1 million to launch the diminutive wunderkind and his latest disc, Twentysomething, across North America. He’s poised to eclipse Peter Cincotti, Michael Buble and perhaps even Harry Connick Jr. in the contemporary hipster-crooner sweepstakes.