Lead Performer: Jamie Cullum; Producer (group): Verve

As with his manic (sometimes mannered) performances, the first CD by this young, overeager British jazzbo works hard to win us over. Cullum’s as comfortable tackling Cole Porter and Lerner and Loewe as he is stylishly adapting Radiohead and Jeff Buckley songs for piano-bar trios. But he makes an equal number of blunders, like trivializing ”The Wind Cries Mary” with a corny big-band arrangement and writing originals that sound like Billy Joel knockoffs. Focus, kid, focus.

Originally posted May 14 2004 — 12:00 AM EDT

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