Jim Cullum Jr.
Photo by Jamie Karutz
Jim Cullum Jr.
Bandleader, Cornetist, Host
1962 to present, b. September 20, 1941

As a teenager Jim Cullum locked onto the sounds of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke. He discovered his father’s collection of Beiderbecke records and listened to them over and over. Jim says, “Before I ever touched a musical instrument of any kind, I had listened to so much Bix that I had, without trying, memorized quite a number of his solos. To my father’s surprise I was able to hum and whistle the tunes.” At first Jim thought he might want to play trombone, then while helping his father in the grocery business, he caught sight of an antique cornet in a store window and fell in love. Attending Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, Jim formed a 7-piece traditional jazz group called the Happy Jazz Band with his father Jim Cullum Sr, who had been a reedman with trombonist Jack Teagarden in the 40s. Classic jazz is the starting point for Cullum’s highly personal and original playing style. His playing combines the drive of hot jazz trumpeters in the traditions of King Oliver, and the lyrical melancholy of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Cullum’s preferred repertoire embraces a diversity of both the familiar and the obscure compositions of Jelly Roll Morton, George Gershwin, W.C. Handy, Hoagy Carmichael and traditional gospel hymns and blues. Jim Cullum features the almost lost art of the improvised jazz ensemble, sometimes called “collective improvisation,” in the work of The Jim Cullum Jazz Band. The group has a distinct musical identity, crafted by bandleader Cullum’s vision, bringing a 21st century perspective to earlier styles developed by jazz luminaries Eddie Condon, Count Basie, Muggsy Spanier, Don Albert and Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats. Jim Cullum’s lifelong passion has been to research, preserve and present jazz and popular song from the first half of the 20th century. Committed to the continued growth of classic jazz by educating new generations of musicians and enthusiasts, The Jim Cullum Jazz Band was on the faculty of the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University in California from 1993-2005.

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