Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Blue Note Records recording artist Jamie Cullum - the best-selling jazz artist in U.K. history - will release his new album INTERLUDE on January 27, 2015. The album includes 3 exclusive tracks that did not appear on the original U.K. edition. The album marks a shift to straight-ahead jazz and a return to interpretation from an artist who has made a habit of bending genres, writing original material and bringing new sounds and new listeners to the music. Working with producer Benedic Lamdin of Nostalgia 77, Cullum selected a number of jewels from the American songbook, including the title track, which was penned by Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Paparelli, and added a couple of modern surprises - Sufjan Steven's "The Seer's Tower" and Randy Newman's "Losing You." There are also collaborations with Gregory Porter ("Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood") and Laura Mvula ("Good Morning Heartache"). Interlude is the follow-up to Cullum's 2013 album Momentum, which he recorded with producers Dan the Automator and Jim Abbiss. Cullum has recently appeared on albums by Labrinth, Birdy and alternative hip hop super-group Deltron 3030.
Jamie's catalogue dates back to his self-released, Heard It All Before, in 1999, while he was still studying at the University of Reading. Pointless Nostalgic (2002), released by legendary indie jazz label Candid Records, was certified Gold in the U.K. It was followed by Cullum's breakthrough major label debut, Twenty something, which climbed into the Top 5 in the U.K., where it was subsequently certified triple Platinum. Cullum recorded two songs for the Meet the Robinsons soundtrack and was nominated for a Golden Globe® for "Best Original Song" for "Gran Torino," which he co-wrote for the 2008 Clint Eastwood film of the same name.
The intent behind Jamie Cullum's seventh album, Interlude -- released in the U.K. in 2014, with a U.S. release in 2015 -- is to strongly reconnect the singer/pianist with his jazz roots. Gone are the flirtations with electronics, along with original material: Cullum is playing live with a jazz orchestra, singing standards that are familiar but not shopworn. He expands the songbook so there's room for Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" and the Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," but his playbook is straight out of Ray Charles. He's growling and crooning as he alternately pounds and tinkles his piano, giving plenty of space for the orchestra to surge but not allowing a lot of room for improvisation. Most of the songs here clock in somewhere between three and four minutes, which is a strong indication that this album lies toward the pop end of the jazz spectrum. This is by no means a bad thing. By devoting himself to a strong book of standards and recording with a live big band, Cullum seems reinvigorated. He's enjoying tearing into these old tunes and that excitement isn't merely palpable, it's contagious. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine