The Pursuit

Jamie Cullum is going to be around for a long time and is going to enjoy a very successful career. Already he’s forged a reputation as a gifted multi-instrumentalist, a sought after producer, a charismatic performer, and a talented songwriter. He’s catapulted into Hollywood, writing songs for film and singing for one of Disney’s animated animal characters. He’s even co-written music with Clint Eastwood for the film “Gran Torino.”

After releasing Catching Tales in 2005, Cullum spent 2 years on the road promoting it and performing. He took another 2 years to work with other artists, including producing duties for the Count Basie Orchestra. He collaborated with his brother Ben Cullum on a dance music project called B.C. vs J.C. playing deejay in clubs around London. After building a home studio, self-effacingly christened Terrified Studios, a nod to Cullum’s reticence toward technology, Cullum began recording his 4th album. The Pursuit has a looser, informal atmosphere than Cullum’s earlier work. He stretches out more on tracks, allowing room for experimentation.

Opening with a cover of Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things” Cullum establishes his jazz credentials while also exhibiting his penchant for improvising with melody and tempo. The 2nd track balances the album’s template by introducing the self-penned pop piece “All Over It Now.” The exceptional “Wheels” finds Cullum toying with lyrical content, weaving love and the apocalypse into a punching pop number that hums along on brushed percussion and rhythmic piano. Cullum’s riskiest move is taking on Rihanna’s Top−40 dance hit “Don’t Stop The Music, transforming it into a sinuous mid-tempo jazz ballad. “You and Me Are Gone,” another original composition, shows off Cullum’s ability to mix jazz and funky soul elements. The song is driven by piano but a full band, resplendent with organ, bass and horns, propels the song. Throughout The Pursuit, Cullum graceful mixes jazz, pop, soul, and funk. Cullum is joined by the Count Basie Orchestra and the horn section from Michael Jackson's Thriller.

“Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down” features a line from the novel that inspired the album’s title. Cullum inspiration came from a novel by Nancy Mitford explaining, “The reason I made it the album title was that I’ve come to realize that life is one long pursuit. Being a musician is not about any obvious goal; it’s about appreciating the journey as opposed to the destination.” Clearly Cullum is enjoying a journey that isn’t always predictable but, so far, has been very entertaining.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)