What do Jamie Cullum and Olly Murs have in common? They’re both Essex boys with a penchant for an impromptu dance move (hip-wiggling in Olly’s case, bounding on a piano in Jamie’s), and they both appear on the star-studded line-up for the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival. The crooners will be joined in Festival City by legendary US rock band Santana, as well as Brit boyband The Wanted and California songstress Colbie Caillat.
Singer/songwriter and piano maestro Cullum has his roots firmly in jazz, but his dabbling in other genres – from rock to hip hop – has helped him become one of the UK’s most successful crossover artists. The diminutive 34-year-old, who has two daughters with his supermodel turned author wife Sophie Dahl, will play tracks from his latest album Momentum plus some of his famously eclectic cover versions.
Listen out for: We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for Cullum’s rendition of Pharrell’s Frontin’.
Cullum in quotes:“It took me a while to work out what I wanted to do. I didn’t think I would make a living out of music. I thought it’d always be something I’d do for fun.”
“I often have to answer that boring question: ‘Are you a jazz artist?’ or ‘Is this a jazz record?’”
“On the whole, working makes me very happy. But if something isn’t going right, I get very grumpy. Writing is actually very hard. I spend hours in a state of self-doubt, banging my head against a brick wall and making a million cups of tea.”
“I know I may have the body of a 12-year-old boy, but underneath I have the spirit of a man.”
“I took 15 of my mates on a skiing holiday. I think I’ve done plenty of extravagant things, but I’m happy to stay under the radar.”
“I don’t want to lose context with my family life. I want to be able to say ‘I’ll be back in a few days’, not, ‘I’ll see you in three weeks’.”
Cast your mind back to 1999, and you’ll hear Santana’s monster hit Smooth echoing in your memory. The track was rarely off the airwaves that year, hitting the top spot in the US before becoming an international hit. The 1999 album Supernatural, which sold 30 million copies, won Santana a whole new fan base, but the band had already been performing for more than 30 years – they even played at Woodstock back in 1969.
Listen out for: If they don’t play Smooth, we’ll eat our Santana-inspired fedora.
One of the most successful graduates of The X Factor school of fame that emerged from the British TV show, 2009 runner-up Murs has managed to carve out a career in both music and TV. The 29-year-old has racked up three number one hits since soaring to stardom, as well as taking on presenting duties on The Xtra Factor in 2011.
You can read more about Olly Murs with a profile from our friends at Hype.
Listen out for: Dear Darlin’ and Heart Skips A Beat, Murs’ collaboration with Rizzle Kicks.
This British and Irish boy band may not spring immediately to mind when thinking about jazz, but we doubt the women in the audience will be complaining. The five chaps will bring a pop flavour to this year’s festival, performing hits like All Time Low, Gold Forever and Walks Like Rihanna.
Listen out for: Glad You Came, their biggest hit to date.
Meet the boys…
Siva Kaneswaran: The ex-model. Got spotted in an advertising campaign and was recruited for the band.
Tom Parker: The rascal. Not averse to an eyebrow-raising quote in interviews.
Max George: The heartthrob. After an ill-fated engagement to TV actress Michelle Keegan, he’s been linked to numerous ladies, including Hollywood wild child Lindsay Lohan.
Nathan Sykes: The baby. A performer from a young age, he was crowned winner of a Britney Spears’ karaoke contest in 2003 and got to kiss Ms Spears on live TV.
Jay McGuiness: The one with the hair. The proud owner of a mop of curls, he once revealed a bizarre, half-shaved head that devastated his fans.
This guitar-strumming singer-songwriter will bring a laidback Californian vibe to the festival. The Malibu girl, who has previously written hits for country music megastar Taylor Swift, plays the piano and the ukulele as well as the guitar, and won a Grammy award for her 2008 duet with Jason Mraz, Lucky.
Listen out for: Colbie’s debut single Bubbly.
EARTH, WIND AND FIRE EXPERIENCE
Stepping up as a late replacement for Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington, the EWF Experience will start the festival. And it’s FREE. Fans can expect ‘stunning demonstration of a living, vital performance – with every component of the band upholding the high standard of excellence that established the original EWF sound’.
True jazz fans should follow signs to the Jazz Garden for a strong line up of musicians. World-renowned guitarist Larry Carlton and master drummer Al Foster are just two of the bona fide jazz heroes scheduled to appear as part of the festival. Running parallel to the main stage, the Jazz Garden will also host multiple-Grammy award-winning pianist Billy Childs and expert pianist Kirk Lightsey.
Tony Lakatos (February 13, 8pm) One of the most respected saxophone players in the world.
Al Foster (February 13, 9:30) Master drummer and major innovator in the world of jazz.
Kirk Lightsey (February 14, 8pm) Voted among the top pianists in the world.
Larry Carlton (February 14, 9.30pm) 19-time Grammy nominee, 4-time Grammy winner, world- renowned guitarist and recording artist.
Steve Grossman (February 19, 8pm) One of the last heroes in the idiom of straight ahead hard bop jazz, replaced Wayne Shorter in Miles Davis’ fusion band.
Sean Jones (February 19, 9.30pm) Trumpeter/composer featured on the 2007 Grammy Awards.
Nestor Torres (February 20, 8pm) Latin Grammy award winning flautist.
Billy Childs (February 20, 9.30pm) Guggenheim award winner, 10-time Grammy nominee, 3-time Grammy winning pianist, composer and arranger.
Festival Park, Dubai Festival City, Dubai, Dhs350. Tel: (04) 3911196. Taxi: Dubai Festival City. ticketmaster.ae