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Norah Jones


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Mainstream pop, soft jazz

Status:

Most recent release, Day Breaks (2016)

See also:

Norah Jones' site

Wikipedia's entry for Norah Jones

Comparisons:

Sade, Holly Cole

Covers/own material:

Own, co-written, and covers

General comments:

This evening I was listening to a couple of cuts from Charlie Hunter's new CD, Songs from the Analog Playground, not so we could hear Hunter's very competent jazz guitar playing but so that we could hear Norah Jones. My ears perked up when I heard her name because I read an article about her a couple of weeks ago and she sounded like a good candidate for ecto apotheosis. After hearing her, I think she will be a hit with you guys. She has a soulful voice, writes her own songs, and is a jazz pianist. She may be coming up hard on Holly Cole's heels. I see Norah Jones slipping into the jazzy poppy female vocalist strata (stratum?) that Holly is in. She has an album coming out in February on Blue Note.
     Here are some reasons for giving Norah Jones a few years to grow before we decide she is the flavor of the month melting on the sidewalk of Pop Stardom.
  1. She is 21, I think.
  2. She has a distinctive voice.
  3. She is trying to write her own songs. I know, most ecto favorites are songwriters too. But how many of the singers tapped for the top forty aspire to write songs?
  4. She comes across as a mensch in the few interviews I've read.
  5. She studied jazz piano at the University of North Texas, thus allowing me to claim her as a hometown girl.
Reasons for the big media push:
  1. She is 21.
  2. She has a distinctive voice.
  3. She's the daughter of Ravi Shankar.
  4. She is easy on the eyes.
  5. People are sick of Britney and Christina?
  6. A record company has dollars in its eyes.
I think Norah Jones has legs. She'll be around for a while. Probably, though, Rolling Stone will forget her in six months. (lyle_howard@hotmail.com)

So the flavor of the month seems to be Norah Jones. (Ravi Shankar's 22-year-old daughter who just put out a jazz record.)
     She was apparently the talk of the SXSW conference this year...you can't listen to WFUV for more than 15 minutes without hearing her...I've heard musicians whose opinions I really respect talking her up recently...and I'm watching her on Letterman right now.
     Can someone please explain to me what the big deal is? I mean, she's nice and all, but there just doesn't seem to be any There there. I don't understand why everyone and their sister is having multiple orgasms over her all of a sudden.
     What am I missing? (I'm obviously missing *something*.)
     Seeking enlightenment....
(Later) 2002 Musical Aberration Of The Year: Norah Jones
     Now, I usually reserve this spot to rank on some ungodly maker of musical evil...but I don't think Norah Jones is that. Still, I just don't get why the world is having multiple orgasms over a bland, breathy-voiced kid who clearly doesn't feel anything she's singing and whose music all sounds the same.
I'm not a Norah Jones fan—I find her music way too bland and expressionless—but I am happy for her success. (meth@smoe.org)

I did pick up Norah Jones at Borders a couple of weeks ago. It was on a listening station, and it was cheap. The little bits I heard worked for me on the level of her vocal quality if not the songs. I knew nothing about her and hadn't heard any of the hype. No...it didn't knock me out. It's not that kind of album. It works very well as a slinky, smokey, jazzy album. It's very much a background music type of thing. Nice and relaxing to listen to while reading a book or just lounging on your patio. There are a couple of places where her voice evoked Kathleen Wilhoite (very under-rated, and I would love to hear more from her). I think I would classify it as Ecto Lounge music. There is nothing here that will grab you or have you humming it later in the day. If you approach this release with that understanding, it might work for you.
     Hey...it was cheap, and it doesn't totally suck. (JavaHo@aol.com)

Oh, yeah. About the most that I can say about this is that it is the Distilled Essence of Inoffensiveness. Just about anyone can put it on in the background, nod their heads and say "that's nice", and pat themselves on the back for buying something packaged as jazz. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

Did Norah Jones really deserve 8 grammies? Yes, yes she did. And if Ectophiles had discovered her before the rest of the country, we'd all be turning cartwheels in happiness for her instead of sniping at her success. (vickie@enteract.com)

For the record, I heard her album several months ago and thought it was pleasant but a little too mellow for my tastes. (trow@interbridge.com)

Comments about live performance:

i saw her on her recent tour of australia and thought she was wonderful. (2/03, maier@joynet.com.au)

Recommended first album:

Come Away With Me is her debut

Recordings:


Come Away With Me

Release info:

2002

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended only for fans of soft jazz

Group members:

Norah Jones—piano, electric piano, vocals

Guest artists:

Arif Mardin—string arrangements
Dan Rieser—drums
Adam Rogers—guitar
Tony Scherr—slide guitar, acoustic guitar
Kevin Breit—electric guitar, steel guitar, acoustic guitar
Kenny Wollesen—drums
Jesse Harris (Once Blue)—electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Rob Burger—accordion, pump organ
Sam Yahel—Hammond organ
Lee Alexander—bass
Jenny Scheinman—violin
Adam Levy—electric guitar
Brian Blade—drums, percussion
Bill Frisell—electric guitar

Produced by:

Arif Mardin, Jay Newland, Craig Street, Norah Jones

Comments:

See general comments above.

Not Too Late

Release info:

2006—Blue Note Records—0946 3 74516 2 5

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Norah Jones—vocals, piano, Wurlitzer, electric guitar, acoustic guitars, pump organ, mellotron

Guest artists:

Jesse Harris(Once Blue)—acoustic guitars, guitjo
Julia Kent—cello
Jeffrey Zeigler—cello
Daru Oda—vocals (2, 12); whistle
M. Ward—vocals (2)
Kevin Breit—mandolin
J. Walter Hawkes—trombones
Lee Alexander—bass, lap steel
Andrew Borger—drums, slit drum, pots & pans, marimba, cymbals
Adam Levy—electric guitars; vocal (12)
Paul Bryan—Chamberlin keyboards
Larry Goldings—Hammond B-3 organ
Chuck MacKinnon—trumpet
Rob Sudduth—tenor sax
Tony Mason—drums
Devin Greenwood—Hammond B-3 organ
Jose Davila—tuba
Bill McHenry—tenor sax
Richard Julian—vocals (10)
Tony Scherr—electric guitar
Robbie McIntosh—electric guitar solo (12)

Produced by:

Lee Alexander

Comments:

I like the couple of folky tunes, but most of the album is soft jazz that doesn't really do anything for me. (JoAnn Whetsell)

The Fall

Release info:

2009—Blue Note Records—50999-6-99286-28

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Norah Jones—vocals, Wurlitzer, piano, tack piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, glockenspiel

Guest artists:

John Kirby—tack piano, synth, piano, Casio, string synth
James Poyser—Wurlitzer, organ
Smokey Hormel—electric guitar
Sam Cohen—electric guitar
Frank Swart—bass
Marco Giovino—drums, percussion
Robert DiPietro—additional drums, drums
Matt Stanfield—programming, synth
Peter Atanasoff—electric guitar
Dave Wilder—bass, 6 string tick tack bass
Pete McNeal—drums
Will Sayles—tambourine, hand drum, shaker, percussion
Zac Rae—synth, Rhodes, vibes, marimba, organ, Marxophone, clavinet
Sasha Dobson—acoustic guitar
Lyle Workman—acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Gus Seyffert—bass
Joey Waronker—drums
Mike Martin—background vocals (4)
Catherine Popper—bass
Tony Scherr—bass
Marc Ribot—electric guitar, banjo
Jon Graboff—pedal steel
James Gadson—drums
Jesse Harris (Once Blue)—acoustic guitar (11)

Produced by:

Jacquire King

Comments:

Not as sleepy as previous work I've heard by her, but not compelling enough to make me a fan. It's all very tastefully done, but it's all tastefully done the same way, even when the lyrics imply anger ("If we don't get a new situation / For our busted nation, we're lazy" from the song "It's Gonna Be"). Too bad, because the first track "Chasing Pirates" is quite promising. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Little Broken Hearts

Release info:

2012—Blue Note—509997 31548 2 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Norah Jones—vocals, Rhodes, guitar, piano, Wurlitzer, electric guitar, bass, acoustic guitar, organ

Guest artists:

Heather McIntosh—cello (1, 8); bass (8)
Brian Burton—acoustic guitar (1, 8); organ (1, 6); synthesizer (1-6, 10, 12); electric guitar (2, 3, 5, 7, 9); drums (2, 3, 5, 7, 10); percussion (3); piano (6); bass, programming (12)
Blake Mills—electric guitar (1, 3-7, 9-12); acoustic guitar (7, 9, 12)
Gus Seyffert—bass (3, 5-7, 9, 11, 12); electric guitar (5, 7); background vocals (5)
The Sonus Quartet—strings (5, 6, 11, 12)
Joey Waronker—drums (6, 7, 9, 11, 12); percussion (7, 11, 12)
Dan Elkan—electric guitar (10)
Todd Monfalcone—electric guitar (10)
Jonathan Hischke—bass (10)

Produced by:

Danger Mouse

Comments:

This might be Norah's most lively and stylish album yet. The songs range from flirtatious ("She's 22") to ethereal ("Travelin' On") to even a bit sinister ("Miriam"). Norah's voice is beautiful as ever, and it's great hearing her sing in a higher register on some tracks. While none of her albums have disappointed me, something about Little Broken Hearts feels like a confident step in a more bold direction for this gifted artist. A highlight of 2012. (lasherboy@gmail.com)

Again an ok album but with not much to keep me interested. (raschee@gmail.com)


Further info:

Norah Jones is also a member of The Little Willies. She acted in the film My Blueberry Nights (2007).

She has released the following DVDs:

  • Live in New Orleans (2003)
  • Norah Jones and the Handsome Band: Live in 2004 (2004)
  • Austin City Limits: Live From Austin, TX (2008)
Other DVD appearances include:

  • Live From Bonnaroo Music Festival 2002 (2002)
  • We Are the Future, You Are the Answer: A Night of Music & Hope (2004)
  • Return to Sin City: A Tribute to Gram Parsons (2005)
  • Genius: A Night for Ray Charles—A Tribute Concert (2005)
  • Willie Nelson and Friends: Live & Kickin' (2005)
  • Live From Abbey Road: The Best of Season 1 (2008)
  • Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis Play the Music of Ray Charles (2009)
  • A MusiCares Tribute to Neil Young (2011)
  • The Bridge School Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition (2011)
Compilation contributions include:

  • "The Grass Is Blue" on Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton (2003)
  • "Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want To Get Over You)" on Lonesome, On'ry and Mean: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings (2003)
  • "More Than This" on Lady Sings the Blues (2003)
  • "Turn Me On" on the Love Actually soundtrack (2003)
  • "Why Can't He Be You" on Remembering Patsy Cline (2003)
  • "Love Me Tender" on The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement soundtrack (2004)
  • "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" on Higher Ground: Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert (2005)
  • "My Blue Heaven" on Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (2007)
  • "World of Trouble" on Raise Hope for Congo (2010)
  • "How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart?" on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (2011)
  • "A Change Is Gonna Come" on the Wretchers and Jabberers soundtrack (2011)
  • a live version of "Jesus, Etc." on The Bridge School Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition (2011)
Collaborations include:

  • "More Than This" with Charlie Hunter on his album Songs From the Analog Playground (2001)
  • "Ruler of My Heart" with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on their album Medicated Magic (2002)
  • "In the Dark" with Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra on their album Small World Big Band Volume Two: More Friends (2002)
  • "Love Me Tender" with Adam Levy on his album Get Your Glow On (2003)
  • the album New York City with the Peter Malick Group (2003)
  • "Here We Go Again" with Ray Charles on his album Genius Loves Company (2004)
  • "Dreams Come True" with Willie Nelson on his album It Always Will Be (2004)
  • "Virginia Moon" with the Foo Fighters on their album In Your Honor (2005)
  • "Dear John" with Ryan Adams & The Cardinals' album Jacksonville City (2005)
  • "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" with Dolly Parton and Lee Ann Womack on Dolly Parton's album Those Were the Days (2005)
  • "Sucker" with Mike Patton on Peeping Tom's self-titled album (2006)
  • "Court and Spark" with Herbie Hancock on his album River: The Joni Letters (2007)
  • "Life Is Better" with Q-tip on his album The Renaissance (2008)
  • "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Willie Nelson on his album American Classic (2009)
  • "Dreamgirl" with The Lonely Island on their album Incredibad (2009)
  • "Two Sleepy People" with Seth MacFarlane on his album Music Is Better Than Words (2011)
  • "Speak Low" with Tony Bennett on his album Duets II (2011)
  • "Season's Trees," "Black," and "Problem Queen" with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi on their album Rome (2011)
  • numerous tracks on Ryan Adams' album Ashes & Fire (2011)
  • the single "Home for the Holidays" with Cyndi Lauper (2011)
  • the album Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles with Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2016-10-05 19:04:16.
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