“What I’m listening to” is a weekly series of music that reigns at the top of my personal playlist. Music that I think is cool and deserves a mention and some extra attention.
This week: Jamie Cullum.
Although you don’t see much of him in the charts lately, this guy is far from “unknown.” Next to writing, composing, playing and singing his own songs like “All at Sea,” (one of my favorites) “Mind Trick,” “These are the Days,” “I’m all over it,” and many more, he’s maybe even more famous for covering an extensive range of tunes -in his completely unique way, using his MAD Pop-Piano skills and insights to make songs completely his own- ranging from pop hits like “Everlasting Love,” to (jazz) standards like”Singing in the Rain,” and Cole Porter’s “I get a kick out of you,”; the Neptune’s (Pharell) “Frontin’,” Jimi Hendrix’ “Wind Cries Mary,” Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” (LOVE that one too) and -the song that re-grabbed my attention all over again lately: his awesome version of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music”.
One that understands exactly what to do to set a tune to your own hand using Pop-Piano techniques, a true master of the instrument, mixing Jazz with Pop and Rock with Soul the extremely talented: Jamie Cullum.
Jamie’s has had it’s fair share of commercial success -and deservedly so-, still I feel this is such an awesomely talented Pop-Pianist (yes you read that correctly, I wrote Pop and not Jazz) that when this awesome cover came by my playlist again recently, I couldn’t help but decide to devote this W.I.L.T. to him.
He has actually been a huge inspiration for my own musical career. Back in the day when I could barely tell a C from a G, his mind blowing musicality, re-harmonizations and riffin’ and running on the keyboards were always good to remind me of the fact that I was not as good as I’d hoped yet and that it was time to STUDY and learn 🙂
I remember when he was first brought to my attention, back some twelve years ago, when he just released his first sorta-big commercial success album “Twenty Something,” by a good friend of mine who thought that I might like this youngster’s cover of Pharell’s “Frontin’,” of which Jamie played an awesome jazzy piano interpretation. My friend thought that maybe I’d add that version to my own repertoire (I was and still am a big fan of covering songs myself. Figuring them out by ear has hugely helped me develop my musical ear and insight into the board and music in general). Well.. no. Ha! What the HECK did he even play? Way beyond my league back then.
Over the years however, I like to say that Jamie and me tended to grow towards each other a bit, so to speak. Not that Jamie was getting worse at playing while I got better, but he tended to release some tracks (“All at Sea” being one of my absolute favorites) that were a little less heavy on the voicings and the piano skills displayed and needed to reproduce.
As with the years, both my ears and my skills got better and Jamie kept releasing an alternation of super-hard and not-so-super-hard-to-play songs, I slowly but steadily became able to re-produce more and more of his work, which played a large part in my musical growth.
As you know I feel there is way too little “organic”/”natural”/”pure” pop-music out there these days, I really fear for both the “pollution” of ears all over the world, never hearing (or at least: not enough) how wonderfully bare good music can be, but also, for the development of future musicians.
So he’s one that I highly recommend both listening to (loving) and learning from.
Although the list could be way longer, below are 3 of my favorite songs of him. All played live, which I always find to be extra inspirational, educational and entertaining.
What a talent. Enjoy.
All at Sea
High and Dry
Don’t stop the music (& a whole show for if you’ve come in the mood and want more acoustic goodness. Check out the last song, an awesome Rhodes version of his “These are the Days”. Gotta love that keyboard.)