Under the heading of Cool Britannia, the L.A. Philharmonic delivered a decidedly old-fashioned and relatively stuffy presentation that seemed to stifle the buoyant star of the night, Jamie Cullum. The pop-jazz pianist and singer, who has built a quick career redefining the genre’s songbook, demonstrated a willing spirit but ultimately was reigned in by time constraints and the evening’s theme.
Cullum and his band — drummer Mark McLean and bassist Tim Lefebvre — sparkled on “I Get a Kick Out of You,” the ballad “Blame it on My Youth” and his own “Twentysomething,” and Cullum certainly had room to show off his piano chops and sense of humor. In other settings, he has sounded like an original, a young man with vision who convincingly runs hip-hop, Tin Pan Alley and hard rock through a jazz prism. For most of Saturday, he sounded like a Harry Connick Jr. wannabe.
L.A. Phil’s section was rather uninspiring: a medley of John Barry’s James Bond themes augmented by some inaccurate piano playing by conductor Bramwell Tovey; a collection of Noel Coward works with indecipherable singing by the Pacific Chorale; and the “Shagadelic Suite” featuring the music of the “Austin Powers” movies. Not only are the Power movies not British, but a chunk of the suite — credited to George S. Clinton, was “Baby Elephant Walk” by Henry Mancini.
Again, not a Brit.