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Norah Jones - Day Breaks

Posted by Kat Cullen on 2016/12/20

A usual daybreak for Grammy winning singer/pianist Norah Jones would have been after a slew of post party meet and greets followed by late night jaunts to the local diner.  Recently inspired by the birth of her second child and experiencing daybreak in a whole new light, the daughter of Ravi Shankar was drawn back to what made her a household name…the piano.  She mentioned on her and only label's website since her debut, Blue Note Records, that “..I was up in the middle of the night, things would go through my head and I would try to record them while I was feeding the baby. I got into playing more piano. We have a piano in our kitchen, so it became a late-night kitchen piano thing, and the songs I started writing over the next year were more piano based. And so this record just started coming together in my head.”


 The creative juices started flowing after she performed at Blue Notes 75th Washington D.C’s Anniversary concert with legends Wayne Shorter on saxophone and Brian Blade on drums.  That led to having the two and others contribute to Jones 6th solo album co-produced by former A&R guy Eli Wolf with songs written and co-written by Sarah Oda - backup singer for Norah - including the two lead off songs ‘Burn’ and ’Tragedy'.  Both rooted to jazz and blues with their haunting sound and lyrics.  That’s followed by ‘Flipside' co-written by band member Pete Remm and inspired by U.S. social issues of late along with legend Lonnie Smith on organ.  Norah said she was listening to a lot of Les McCann during the creation of the album - 60’s organ groove that made her hook up with drummer Brian Blade and the players that came along with Blade - Chris Thomas on bass from Blade’s Fellowship band - a rhythm section that was “locked in” and could just feed off each other’s energy.


 Cover songs on the album include Neil Young’s 'Don’t Be Denied' but arranged to a third person and girl’s point of view.  Horace Silver’s ‘Peace' makes an appearance after Norah first wrote the lyrics for the pianist before he passed in 2014 and a timely tune at that.  She honoured Duke Ellington with his 1962 Charles Mingus - Max Roach collaboration on Fleurette Africiane (African Flower).  It’s a nice way to end a much welcomed return to her jazz/soul/piano lounge roots with Shorter on sax and Jones humming the melody.  Norah said...“I’m a huge Duke Ellington fan, of course, I love the way he played and his songs are so amazing. This song was just so cool and different and it had the vibe I wanted. It’s a really pretty meditation at the end of the record.”


Gary James



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