Words by Kevin McCormack

Though not as well known in the states, English jazz artist Jamie Cullum is a mega-star in his native land and Europe in general. In New York to promote his upcoming album, Interlude, and recent deal with Blue Note Records, Cullum played for an over-packed but extremely enthusiastic crowd, of which I was happy to be a part.

The crowd sweated in the heat of the Blue Note’s cramped confines, eagerly awaiting the man they’d come to see. Cullum opened his set with a few new tunes, treating the crowd to a haunting rendition of Sufjan Stevens’ “The Seer’s Tower”, channeled, as he says, through the lens of Nina Simone. Another standout was a solo version of “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, a duet that features Gregory Porter on the upcoming album.

All of the new material was solid, but it was Jamie’s older classics the crowd was most enthused about. His cover of Pharrell Williams’ “Frontin'” brought the crowd to their feet, jumping in time to the music as the tiny British powerhouse climbed atop his piano, giving the band a chance to shine. And shine they did. The trumpet solo in particular was still ringing in my head 24 hours later, and the rest of the sizable band was every bit as capable.

Cullum slowed things down toward the end of his 90 minute set, soothing us with his classic “All at Sea”, the end of which segued delightfully into Billy Joel’s “Lullaby” for the briefest of moments. Jamie closed out the night with his version of Radiohead’s “High and Dry”, leaving the crowd with an energy that was palpable and for me, at least, has yet to fully dissipate. The smiles on the faces of the crowd, as they exited, makes me confident that it will be a night of fantastic Jazz, not soon forgotten by everyone who attended. I will certainly never forget it. Well done, Mr. Cullum…


TheWaster.com | NYC