Thursday, March 15, 2007
All that jazz...
The first thing you notice about Jamie Cullum, jazz wunderkind, is that he’s in dire need of a hair trim. For the first few minutes after he bursts forth on stage, belting out a single in his throaty voice, you can't help being distracted by the shaggy lock that hangs over his left eye almost until his chin. It stays in the way until he flicks it to the right. But the next moment, the drums roll, and his head follows. And follicular folly is back to veil his boyish face.
Jamie Cullum was the closing act of the scintillating 3-day Dubai International Jazz Festival. The acts which preceded him were big names, cool names – Acoustic Alchemy, Robin McKelle, Toto, 3 Ladies of Jazz, Freddy Cole. But in terms of sheer energy, entertainment and electricity, Jamie was unequalled. He not only played the grand piano, he drummed on the cover, and then leaped on top of the piano as the crowds gasped. He divided the audience into bass and tenor saxophone and gave each section a bar to sing. He was appreciative of the efforts – “I like the way you guys sacrifice pitch for volume.” He made everyone hold up and wave their cell phones with the screen glowing. He had everyone in splits when he crooned Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexy Back’ and ‘Don’t Cha’ by the Pussycat Dolls, adding for effect, “Don cha wish your boyfriend was short like me.”
The crowd was putty in the hands of the pint-sized entertainer. But it could also have been the effect of the copious amount of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay swirling and sloshing in people’s veins. The inky blue backdrop strung with fairy lights and swaying lazily in the breeze took on the notion of a starlit sky, adding to the mesmerism of the moment.
The mildly discordant note in the whole evening – the serpentine queues outside the women’s room, and the enviable absence of them outside the men’s. Naturally the latter couldn’t stop gloating. More than one of them stepped out with an empty bladder and smug smile saying, "Isn’t it good to be a man".
Still, it was a minor quibble, when compared to the seamless organization all through the evening. And when pitted against the fact that one had free passes to the whole show including access to the Skywards Lounge, well, then, there was no complaint at all.