Pointless Nostalgic

COMPOSERS: Jamie Cullum
LABELS: Candid
PERFORMER: JAMIE CULLUM
CATALOGUE NO: CCD 79782

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Both her detractors and her supporters will claim that Grammy-winning vocalist/pianist Diana Krall has reopened quite a few doors for jazz singers. It may or may not be a coincidence that there has been a spate of jazz-imbued vocal albums of late, but itcertainly a good time to be exploring vocal jazz, particularly if you share the scene’s rediscovered passion for standards.

Several of the current wave of jazz vocalists are British, my favourite being the Yorkshire-born CLARE TEAL, whose excellent Orsino’s Songs features both standards and co-written originals. Teal’s deep, rich yet surprisingly agile and expressive voice renders the material with a genuine and heartfelt jazz sensibility.

I do wish I could find the same degree of enthusiasm for her label stablemates STACEY KENT (British by adoption if not by birth) and JAMIE CULLUM, both of whom are enjoying considerable acclaim. Kent in particular has already reached the ‘greatest hits’ stage with Collection, most of which is drawn from her Candid back catalogue, but her sinewy voice and occasionally brusque delivery are rather a matter of taste (although, in all fairness, it’s a taste shared by many).

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Cullum’s Pointless Nostalgic is well-intentioned and his enthusiasm is obvious, but he seems to be straining at the extremes of his register and there’s a certain edginess to his delivery. All of this may just be a matter of first-time studio nerves – his live performances are certainly popular, so his future releases may have a little more polish.