I remember first encountering Jamie Cullum but it took me a while to remember where and it turns out it was the 2003 V-festival in Staffordshire, the very year “Twentysomething” was released. It was in a tent, maybe a Radio 1 tent and I don’t think I went there to watch Jamie Cullum, but you know, it was a while a go and I had a few drinks and I’ve no idea who we actually went to catch. Or maybe we just popped in as we were walking past as you do at a festival. But we walked in to see a bloke bouncing round a piano, jumping on it, hitting it to turn it into a drumkit and just being generally entertaining. In a festival line up that had the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, this little jazzy piano set stuck as one of my favourite performances of the weekend.
If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about Jamie Cullum or heard me talk about him you’ll have probably heard me describe him as a gateway drug. He’s the starting path down a route to harder jazz, not everyone will head that far down but hopefully many will be piqued enough to go and explore. As a former (pretty rubbish) saxophonist my predisposition to jazz is I guess higher than most.
Now 20 years old Twentysomething is a great starting point for both Cullum and anyone wanting to explore a bit more. A soft wash of covers and originals with feet planted in jazz, pop, rock and romantic balladry it offers a great lean in experience as well as, like a lot of other jazz, being easy to imagine in a lean back cocktail bar setting. Cullum live though would maybe be a bit too much for your average quiet cocktail bar – though maybe at fortysomething a little more relaxed.
A dig through the track list offers an enjoyable mix of original songs and covers, I can still see Cullum banging on the sides of his grand piano as the intro to “I could have danced all night” plays out. Most unexpectedly a cover of Hendrix’s “Wind cries Mary” appears and rattles along beautifully, sitting nicely alongside the cover of Radiohead’s “High and dry” on the previous album “Pointless Nostalgic”.
But just come along, partake and see where it leads your listening.