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One-Man British Invasion:  Jamie Cullum

Jamie Cullum is making a name for himself.
 
[Matthew Keys]
Hummingbird Online Editor

jamie1.jpg
[Jamie Cullum]

Get the feeling like Radiohead has a little competition?
 
Be ready for a shocker:  One man with an accent foreign to American turf is now invading it--and has proven that someone can sell more albums than Radiohead.
 
However, Jamie Cullum may have had a little help from "High And Dry," his personal remake of the Radiohead song.  But Cullum, whose album twentysomething has dominated Top 40 Jazz lists in the UK and US like nothing else, doesn't credit his music to Radiohead or even to jazz icons like Harry Connick, Jr.
 
Cullum credits his inspiration for starting his passion for piano and jazz from an unlikely source--guitar legend Jimi Hendrix.  But don't think for one second that Jamie is your nice, sit-down-at-the-piano-and-play kinda guy--he's seen repeatedly banging his fists on the baby grand piano cords in the music video to his chart-topping single, "All At Sea."
 
And Jamie isn't necessarily comfortable being the highest-grossing jazz artist in the UK.

"Someone who is in love with jazz is going to get annoyed when I'm called the greatest British jazz artist alive today, which is fair enough," Cullum says on his website. 
 
"People question whether I'm jazz at all, and I resolutely say I am, but I'm not pushing the boundaries in the usual way. I'm trying to find out whether you can get 16-year-olds who listen to The Strokes and 20-year-olds who listen to house music to think, Actually, this is cooler than I thought."
 
If you're looking for an album with clarity, twentysomething definitely isn't for you.  For starters, the US release doesn't feature a songbook, despite having different jacket art from the UK release.
 
Another difference between this album and releases by other artists is that it's done entirely in the analog format and not altered by computers.

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[From The Album]

"There was no need to correct or improve on the performances, which is the primary reason why most people seem to choose the digital format," stresses Stewart Levine, who produced the album.
 
"The analog format has worked just fine since the days of Louie Armstrong onto The Beatles and through to the White Stripes." 
 
Remarking on the cleanliness of the digital format from the somewhat realistic analog format, "Don't fix it if it ain't broken!" is what Levine finished with.
 
But unlike many other artists, Cullum has one major difference:  his interaction with his fans.  He still prefers to play in small coffee shops and bars instead of mass crowds and stadiums.  But, perhaps, youth is what gets him through his tours.
 
"My favorite story I heard was from a 13-year old who wrote in to me and said that twentysomething was the first album he'd ever bought," Jamie said in a VH1 interview. 
 
"He told me that he took the album with him one day when he was going to visit his grandfather.  He wanted his grandfather to hear it.  But when he got there, his grandfather had the same album and brought it along so his grandson could hear it.  It's amazing."
 
Cullum is currently featured as one of a few VH1 "Inside Track" artists and has a page on the VH1 homepage.  Visit the Jamie Cullum website or search for Cullum's artist page on VH1, where you can also purchase twentysomething and get artist updates.

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