I bought two new CDs for the long car journey down from Lancashire to Pontypridd today. The Pursuit and The Performance. Any similarity in the CDs kind of stops in the titles... although I did enjoy both of them. And, in the interests of public service blogging, I thought I’d share my reaction to them.
Firstly: Jamie Cullum. I think that to get this guy, you have to enjoy pop and jazz. He writes nice simple pop that is so intelligently jazzy it blows your head. And such good jazz that has amazingly sensible pop credentials it makes jazz musicians swoon with envy. Time and again I loved the way he melded the two together. I couldn’t see how it would happen – and yet it did, either by rhythm or piano or vocal inflection or just feel.
His lyrics are pop, not jazz. But the whole package is an amazingly brilliant combination, in a way that fellow pianist Peter Cincotti completely failed to do recently.
Just listen to I’m All Over It – it’s a pop song that is jazz through and through. Or If I Ruled The World – a Harry Secombe song, not even jazz, but turned into thoughtful and wistful pop at its best.
Jazz lovers ought to buy it just for the brilliant opening track – Jamie Cullum playing with the Count Basie band on Just One Of Those Things. Everyone else enjoy everything else – I think this is an amazing intelligent album I will go back to many, many times.
And then, a guilty pleasure. Well into her eighth decade, Dame Shirley Bassey has produced a stunning CD. Stunning. I mean – vocally she sounds twenty years younger throughout (well, almost - there's one track where for me she slightly sounds a little older; but still not 72), and at times DSB genuinely manages to completely roll the years back to days when she was just a slip of a lass from Tiger Bay. And the songs, all new, are great! By turns gentle and reflective, and then effortlessly slipping into pure bombast – and if one or two are forgettable candy floss, even these are gloriously high-class candy-floss. Tom Baxter’s opening track is a thing of beauty; Gary Barlow’s This Time a sub-Sondheim (and that’s real praise) classic; David Arnold and Don Black’s No Good About Goodbye is the best Bond theme never used in a movie (and I had to re-listen to it straightaway – “no solace in a kiss, no comfort in a sigh, no good in goodbye” – fantastic). Richard Hawley adds a fragile After The Rain, and the Pet Shop Boys finish it off with style. And I’ve left out tunes that may be your favourite.
Goodness, Simon Mayo & Mark Kermode had David Tennant on the radio – the four hours in the car were an absolute pleasure.