Jamie embraces the jazz age

Jamie Cullum
Jamie Cullum

Despite his boyish looks jazz singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum is now a married man of 34 and conscious of his age.

That is reflected in his first studio album in three years, Momentum, which has also prompted his first full-scale tour in three years which brings him to Sheffield City Hall on Saturday.

“It’s not one of those grown-up slick records,” he says. “It reflects the crossover period from youth into adulthood. It looks at what it is to be a responsible for another human life and at the same time being a person who wants to be a kid.”

Cullum is married to ex-model and author Sophie Dahl and they have two young daughters.

He approached the record in a completely different way to his previous albums. It was a much more relaxed process starting with the use of DIY equipment to put the first blueprint tracks together with an unlikely mix of iPhone apps, charity shop keyboards and cassette recorders.

One song, Sad, Sad World, began life on a train journey into London and another, You’re Not The Only One, was written in response to being a judge on Sky One’s reality show Must Be The Music alongside Dizzee Rascal.

“Lyrically, it’s probably more reflective than my early stuff,” reflects the artist who hit the big time at the age of 24 thanks to being championed by Michael Parkinson,

Performing live is his passion, though, which is just as well as it seems the way musicians make their money these days. “I know everyone talks about touring as being a necessity but I have always done it before I had an audience and after I had one. I have been doing it since I was 15.”

It wasn’t specifically jazz in those days. In his early teens he was into metal, moving on to soul funk, techno and hip hop, but jazz and blues was there in the background. “It never felt like I had to bring this out, it was part of my personal journey and that of the people I grew up around the Bristol scene.”

Sheffield is one of the places he is looking forward to returning to on tour. “The audience is amazing in Sheffield,” he enthuses. “There seem to be different pockets where some are much quieter and others are wooping and hollering. It’s one of those places where people seem to enjoy going to see live music.”

In addition to playing piano and singing, he values the opportunity to spread the word with his weekly jazz show on BBC Radio 2 on Tuesdays. His status surely helps in this regard, but Cullum insists he doesn’t live the celebrity life

“My wife and I live a quite life,” he insists. “We’ve never been part of that lifestyle and suffered from the paparazzi. When we first got together there was a bit of interest but that changed when they realised we were in love and got married. We don’t live in London and we don’t have famous friends, it’s the same as when we were single.”