British pianist/vocalist Jamie Cullum started his career with a bang at the beginning of the Naughties. With his boyish good looks, indeniable charisma and sheer musical acumen, the young crooner didn't need much time to make a name for himself. Bringing boundless energy to the stage, he developed an explosive live act that rapidly drew public attention. An eclectic artist, Cullum successfully blends genres, mixing jazz, pop, rock, soul and rap. As well as writing his own original material, the artist likes to cover tunes from his favorite artists - the list spans from Radiohead to Jimi Hendrix to Rhianna.
Jamie Cullum was born on August 20, 1979, in England. He started tinkling the ivories and strumming the guitar at an early age. He also cultivated a keen interest for music, taking in all sorts of genres - he notably credits his older brother (and future collaborator) Ben for introducing him to jazz. In his teens, Jamie played the guitar with local outfits Raw Sausage and The Mystery Machine.
While studying at Reading University, Cullum took on any engagement that came his way - pubs, cruising boats, as well as weddings and baptisms. He also released his first album, Heard It All Before, of which 500 copies were made. The recording caught the ear of musician Geoff Gascoyne (another future collaborator), who invited the pianist to play on his own Songs of the Summer.
Whatever happened to nostalgia?
In 2002, self-funded sophomore effort Pointless Nostalgic was picked up by Candid Records. The record contained a couple of self-penned numbers and a string of covers (Thelonious Monk, Radiohead, George Gerswhin...) mirroring Cullum's live act. The album met with considerable success in the United Kingdom.
After inking a deal with Universal, the artist released Twentysomething two years later. Again, Cullum approached some golden oldies with a fresh angle (Singin' in the Rain, I Get a Kick Out of You) and, with the help of brother Ben, came up with a handful of original compositions.
Catching Tides hit the shops in 2005. Using a sample from Allen Toussaint's Get Out of My Life, Woman, lead-off single Get Your Way also benefited from the help of producer Dan The Automator. The same year, Cullum undertook a lenghty tour in support of the album. The trek lasted the better part of two years, taking the artist around the United States, and all the way to South America, Asia and Oceania. The itinerary included a stop at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal in July 2006.
In 2007, Cullum received an offer to work on the soundtrack to Grace Is Gone, with director and sometime musician Clint Eastwood. Impressed, the old lion asked the young Brit to write music for his own feature, Gran Torino. The title song ended up being nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
In the summer of 2009, Cullum paid the Festival a second visit. Here, he debuted some of the songs of his long-awaited album The Pursuit, which came out in Europe in the Fall of 2009 (although the United States and Canada had to wait until March 2010 for a domestic release). After having recorded some material in his recently-built home studio, Cullum decamped to Los Angeles to finish the work. As well as turning to the horn section which featured on Michael Jackson's Thriller for a little help, the pianist summoned the Count Basie Orchestra on the jazzy One of Those Things.