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Jazz - Released October 14, 2021 | Blue Note Records

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Christmas music, which first became a common move for singers back in the 1950s, continues to exert a mystical pull on musicians from punk rockers to pop/jazz luminaries like Norah Jones. There are two paths to making a Christmas record: cover the classics or write your own tunes. Given that Christmas music is built on impossibly catchy one-hit wonders, and the list of successful songwriters includes such talents as Irving Berlin ("White Christmas"), Leroy Anderson ("Sleigh Ride") and Johnny Marks ("Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"), the bar is high if you're banging out originals. On the other hand, presenting your version of the classics is equally daunting considering that you're following heavyweights like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Elvis Presley. Norah Jones decided to split the risk by molding classics into her style while also writing half an album of new Christmas originals. Twenty years past her early but still resonant hits like "Don't Know Why," and "Turn Me On" (both from blockbuster debut Come Away with Me) Jones makes her mark on the genre with the five tunes she penned, sometimes in collaboration with album producer Leon Michels. The single, a Jones original called "Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)," is an enjoyably melodic holiday number. Her gospel-inflected "You're Not Alone" unfurls like a classic '60s country tune with an assembly of overdubs providing angelic vocals on the choruses and a pedal steel guitar ringing in the background. Pedal steel returns on "Winter Wonderland" where a synth sounds like timbales. The champ among the classics attempted, however, is "Christmas Don't Be Late" which gets a wonderfully slow, torchy arrangement. Memorable details include the oozy horns of Raymond Mason, Dave Guy and Leon Michels, the snare drum reverb, and Jones—singing her own harmonies—leaning into the "hula hoop" line. Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here," famous from the Peanuts cartoon, is a natural fit for Jones' piano-and-voice prowess. Berlin's "White Christmas'' gets a straight mid tempo cocktail jazz reading with Jones keeping up a brisk pace. On the other hand, the Elvis chestnut, "Blue Christmas'' gets an ultra-slow reading with Jones on piano and vocals, letting her impeccably tight vibrato stretch over this holiday lament. The other favorite that Jones makes her own is "Run Rudolph Run," best known as Chuck Berry's Christmas hit, which here benefits from a deep rhumba beat and reverb on her doubled vocals. Ever the mercurial talent, Jones' holiday dream is a worthy addition to the Christmas lexicon that's merry and bright and yet innovative where it counts. © Robert Baird/Qobuz

Jazz - Released September 11, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Jazz - Released September 2, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Jazz - Released August 28, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Jazz - Released August 21, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Jazz - Released August 14, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Jazz - Released August 7, 2020 | UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Vocal Jazz - Released October 7, 2016 | Blue Note (BLU)

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It is important to realize that Norah Jones is not just a famous persona waving from the cover of a glossy magazine, or simply “a pretty face". The truth is far deeper... Day Breaks is further evidence of her undeniable talent, but also of a tangible artistic evolution. Mixing beautiful original compositions with a sprinkling of great classics (Horace Silver, Neil Young and Duke Ellington), the sixth album from the New Yorker who grew up in Texas brings her many and diverse passions together in one place.  Always lying within the realms of jazz, soul, pop and folk, it is her sincere and visceral love for the former that inhabits this stylish album, which doesn't dwell in the past for a single second. Over the years, the piano (much like her vocals) have toggled between nonchalance and pugnacity. Saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade are among the accomplices invited to the party here, and the experience of those involved is truly telling. Somehow, Day Breaks manages to see eye to eye with Come Away With Me, her first disc released back in 2002, and one that propelled her to the top of the charts. This 2016 vintage is even more structured than previous efforts. Mastered to perfection, the latest effort serves to epitomize the grace and beauty of this timeless artist. © MZ / Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released October 7, 2016 | Blue Note (BLU)

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It is important to realize that Norah Jones is not just a famous persona waving from the cover of a glossy magazine, or simply “a pretty face". The truth is far deeper... Day Breaks is further evidence of her undeniable talent, but also of a tangible artistic evolution. Mixing beautiful original compositions with a sprinkling of great classics (Horace Silver, Neil Young and Duke Ellington), the sixth album from the New Yorker who grew up in Texas brings her many and diverse passions together in one place.  Always lying within the realms of jazz, soul, pop and folk, it is her sincere and visceral love for the former that inhabits this stylish album, which doesn't dwell in the past for a single second. Over the years, the piano (much like her vocals) have toggled between nonchalance and pugnacity. Saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade are among the accomplices invited to the party here, and the experience of those involved is truly telling. Somehow, Day Breaks manages to see eye to eye with Come Away With Me, her first disc released back in 2002, and one that propelled her to the top of the charts. This 2016 vintage is even more structured than previous efforts. Mastered to perfection, the latest effort serves to epitomize the grace and beauty of this timeless artist. © MZ / Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released February 26, 2002 | Blue Note

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What does a shrug sound like? On "Don't Know Why,” the opening track of her debut effort, Norah Jones suggests a few possibilities. The first time she sings the title phrase, she gives it a touch of indifference, the classic tossed-off movie-star shrug. Her tone shifts slightly when she hits the chorus, to convey twinges of sadness; here the casual phrasing could be an attempt to shake off a sharp memory. Later, she shrugs in a way that conveys resignation, possibly regret—she's replaying a scene, trying to understand what happened. Those shrugs and shadings, tools deployed by every jazz vocalist of the 1950s, are inescapable throughout Come Away With Me—in part because everything surrounding Jones' voice is so chill. There's room for her to emote, and room for gently cresting piano and organ chords. Unlike so many of her contemporaries, Jones knows instinctively how much (or how little!) singer the song needs. The secret of this record, which came out when Jones was 22, is its almost defiant approachability: It is calm, and open, and gentle, music for a lazy afternoon in a porch swing. As transfixing covers of Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart” and Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You” make clear, Jones thinks about contours and shadows when she sings; her storytelling depends as much on the scene and the atmosphere as the narrative. And Jones applies the same understatement to the original songs here, which weave together elements of country, pop, jazz and torch balladry in inventive ways. It's one thing to render an old tune with modern cleverness, a skill Jones had honed as a solo pianist/singer before she was discovered. It's quite another to transform an original tune, like Jesse Harris' "Don't Know Why,” into something that sounds ageless and eternal, like a standard. Jones does that, over and over, using just shrugs and implications, rarely raising her voice much above a whisper. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released February 10, 2004 | Blue Note Records

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Norah Jones in the magazine
  • Qobuz: Exclusive Interview with Norah Jones
    Qobuz: Exclusive Interview with Norah Jones Ahead of her new album release this coming Friday, 7th October, Marc Zisman of Qobuz had the opportunity to sit with the world renowned jazz artist to chat about life, music, and more...