Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFixme

JAZZ REVIEW

Cullum shines in `Cool Britannia'

The young singer gives energy to an otherwise not-so-cool concert.

July 23, 2007|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

"Cool Britannia!" at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday was a good idea in principle, less successful in its delivery. It's not as though there was a lack of resources available, given the presence onstage of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by the gregarious Bramwell Tovey, and the Pacific Chorale, directed by John Alexander. Add to that the rising young jazz star singer-pianist Jamie Cullum, and there was plenty of potential for a very cool evening, indeed.

Most of that potential came to life in Cullum's performance. A small dynamo with the free-flying energy of a young Mickey Rooney, he bounced all over the stage, generating ebullience in every direction. At 27, Cullum has mastered the tricky task of blending the sensitivities of classic songs with contemporary rhythms and attitudes.

He sang "I've Got You Under My Skin" in a manner that honored the classic Sinatra version while reconstructing the song in his own buoyant image. Introducing "Blame It on My Youth" with a reference to a love affair with an older woman, he momentarily abandoned effusiveness for quietly crafted musical memory. And his own "Twentysomething" was a whimsical but pointed anthem to the perils of a tumultuous decade, its message perfectly expressed in the chorus: "I don't want to get up, just let me lie in, leave me alone, I'm a twentysomething."

The orchestral portion of the evening was considerably less vivacious, largely because the programming was so lacking in the real diversity -- and coolness -- of Britain's music. Half the program was devoted to music from James Bond and Austin Powers films. Without the visual high jinks illustrating the themes in the Bond movies -- and with Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die" curiously omitted -- the music's appeal quickly diminished.

A 15-minute medley of Noel Coward songs, delivered effectively by the chorale, was somewhat more appealing. But here too there seemed to be a calculated omission of any British songs arriving in the past half-century. How cool was that, given the availability of material from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Elvis Costello and numerous others? Not very.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|