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Jamie Cullum: Mad About Music

Katrina-Kasey Wheeler By

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AAJ: I think one of the great things about jazz is that you can take various influences and explore them and create something new, which is like what you do with your music.

JC: I see other artists who aren't jazz artists but are doing similar things, like Bjork, Brad Mehldau, and all these artists who are creating their own sounds, and that is why jazz is so great, because it is so open to that. It is so malleable it is the widest path to take you wherever you want to go.

AAJ: You create new adaptations to songs that are already thought to be great in their own right, like songs from the Great American Songbook. Do you ever feel the pressure to make a cover song great in a new way, or do you feel that it is at all expected of you to make it completely your own?

JC: When I think of a song I want to do, it is because I have an idea for it. I don't really pick songs and say to myself, "How can I make this different? It is normally more about hearing a great song that I love and having a way to approach it. If I was just going to take a song and make it different, I don't think that it would have the same kind of passion connected to it. For instance, when I did Jimi Hendrix's "Wind Cries Mary, apart from the fact that I loved it, I had this crazy dream about Dr. John and Hendrix having it out together. From that moment on the idea was born, and it comes in those types of impulses. I'm always thinking about ideas, lyrics, chords, and songs, so I'm never really short on ideas.

Jamie Cullum AAJ: Were you at all surprised by the success of your most recent release, Catching Tales?

JC: Well, I think it is always going to be difficult following up to an album as successful as Twentysomething. I didn't expect one thing or the other I just made music that I believed in.

AAJ: Every artist hopes to leave their mark through their music, what do you hope yours to be?

JC: All I have ever really wanted to do is be a great musician. Long before I ever had a career, I just wanted to play well and play with good musicians. It sounds maybe over modest, but that is still really all I want to do—be a really good player. Careers don't last very long these days, just having a career that lasts longer than ten years is a big enough deal in the industry today, so that would be a good start, at the end of all that, I would like to be regarded as someone who could really play, really sing, and really write. I don't need to shift another ten million units I would just like to be regarded as a great musician."


Selected Discography

Geoff Gascoyne, Keep It to Yourself (Candid Records, 2006)

Jamie Cullum, Catching Tales (Verve Forecast, 2005)
Jamie Cullum, Twentysomething (Universal/Verve, 2004)

Jamie Cullum, Pointless Nostalgic (Candid Records, 2003)

Photo Credits
All Photos: Jos L. Knaepen


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