Jamie Cullum seems like a nice, cute kid. With his shaggy-dog hair and baby-faced mug, he looks a bit like George from Grey's Anatomy. But this cat isn't moping around, pining over self-centered tricks who look like Rene Zellweger. No, he's a neo-hipster, a piano-thumping, jazz-crooning bon vivant for the Gawker-reading generation.
You'd think that this was some kind of ironic joke, since this kid in his mid-twenties basically plays jazz for an audience of kids who wouldn't be caught dead listening to jazz. But this Wiltshire, England, lad's music doesn't come with quotation marks. His debut album, Twentysomething, was a rousing enough blend of jazz and pop to land at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, and even Vanity Fair took notice, awarding Cullum the "Best Pipes" honor in 2004.
But the bonus track at the end of the album, a cover of Pharrell Williams's macking anthem "Frontin'," has to be the catchiest surprise of all. Taken from a live performance on Gilles Peterson's BBC radio show, Cullum's bare-bones rendition exuded martini-swilling cool and showed his audience that it wasn't all Ellington and Sinatra on his iPod.
And this youngster isn't done trying out new things on us. There's talk that a dance album, to be released under a pseudonym, is in the works. Perhaps we'll get a taste at this show. Hey, if he can bring a touch of champagne class to a Neptunes-penned track about scarin' up some ass, then the possibilities are truly endless.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.