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The Pursuit

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Album Review

Jamie Cullum tipped too heavily toward coffeehouse electronica on his fourth album, Catching Tales, obscuring his charms as both a jazzy pianist and a soft rock crooner, so he wisely scales back to his strengths on The Pursuit. Despite a brassy opening cover of Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” The Pursuit is hardly a retreat to Harry Connick, Jr. territory. Cullum anchors himself within melodic soft rock, providing a base for incorporating both his jazz and persistent electronica infatuations. Since The Pursuit is produced as a pop album, those electronica flourishes wind up seeming seamless, whereas the jazz runs feel something like affectations no matter how crisply they’re delivered. But all in all, this only underscores what Cullum does best: unabashedly mainstream adult pop, whether it’s the insistent rush of “Mixtape” or the wonderful ‘70s throwback “I’m All Over It.” Much of The Pursuit mines this fertile, mellow vein, producing a bunch of understatedly melodic music whose consistency only suggests that Cullum should stop dabbling with detours and just accept his strength as a soft rock singer/songwriter.

Customer Reviews

Phenomenal!

He just keeps getting better! If you love jazz, pop, originality, and talent- you will love this album. His originals are just that and his remakes are often far better than the originals themselves-as is the case in this album with rhianna's "please don't stop the music". If you like this album then checking out his last two- catching tales and twenty something- is a must! And if you ever get the chance to see him live- do it! Best $40 for a show you will ever spend. Great talent!

Jamie and Jazz!

I really enjoyed this album. My friend from England sent me the album as part of a package of music that I would enjoy, and I really did more so than I originally thought. Cullum does more than just classical jazz. He has a way of smoothing out the classic and then adding a modern twist that serves to update the piece. The pieces are very piano heavy, and he uses varying percussion to complement sections. The way he uses modern smooth jazz as a portal to essential reinvent classics is great. The classics created in a new form bring to mind the names of Wendy Carlos and her switched on bach (box set) is amazing, also, Clara Rockmore and the Theremin. It has the old familiar tone of what the everyday individual envisions jazz to be. Jazz as free form expression that somehow even with disparaging phrases and movements between keys, every listener is impending and well aware of the upcoming resolve. He takes this technique and extrapolates incorporating verses and chorus line resembling of more modern music forms of repeating lines. He has improvisational sections within pieces that are excellent. He uses the bass in some of his pieces and it complements the piano and high hat, sometimes taking the lead. Jamie has excellent vocals, better than I original expected. His lyrics aren’t best thing about his piece. Because jazz is more about instruments (I don’t consider vocals to be an instrument or singing to be music) it is forefront of cullum’s work. Albeit that being said, his lyrics are great and the work well to complement the piece. Jazz tells a story on it’s own which is why vocals are seldom used because the jazz musician and the listener can hear the story by listening to the phrases within the piece and can know the heart and soul and the true meaning behind the piece. The vocals present a doubling of the meaning and they can add to the meaning. I personally may have liked the music better without the vocals. Not because the vocals were bad, but I just like pure jazz. Jazz is the representation of evolving music. From the beginnings of music to where we are today. Jazz paved the way for a lot of modern hip-hop artists and the like. Freestyling is the jazz for the vocal world. The Pursuit is an album of variability. It can be easy listening and just played in the background and set the tone for a day or a life. It could very well be elevator music. I envision myself walking to a fancy hotel with this music playing in the lobby. It just streams high class, and Jamie definitely delivers on that end. Actually by writing this review, I’m loving this album even more so than I did before. I would say to anyone who enjoys jazz or someone who wants to experience jazz and doesn’t know much about the art. I would recommend to them “The Pursuit.”

Tremendous!

Cullum is at his best here. It was quite a wait for this album to be made available in the States but completely worth it. I'm seeing him in concert in Toronto next week and can't wait to hear the new material live.

Biography

Born: August 20, 1979 in Rochford, Essex, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

British pianist/vocalist Jamie Cullum mixes jazz with melodic pop and rock into a crossover style that calls to mind such artists as Harry Connick, Jr. and Norah Jones. In that vein, Cullum will just as often cover a swinging jazz standard as a modern rock song, and his original compositions deftly move from earnest ballads to songs of sardonic wit. Having played guitar and piano since age eight, Cullum developed an avid interest in jazz passed down from his older brother Ben. Inspired by such...
Full Bio