“Hello everyone! We will now listen to Norah Jones’s first single from her latest Blue Note studio album “Day Breaks”, and yes the album is really great!”
This is how a foreign radio program advertised the first single from Norah Jones’s new album. I was surprised when I heard it.
Norah’s name was frequently mentioned when following her serious education she received several Student Music Awards given by Down Beat, one of the most prestigious jazz magazines. She was almost “given life” through İlhan Erşahin’s creative project Wax Poetic at the end of the 1990s, and “spontaneously” matured as a jazz musician with her first Blue Note album “Come Away With Me”, produced by the legendary Arif Mardin and which received many Grammy Awards, including the “Album of the Year”. This maturity suited her.
What did we do? We started to follow news about Norah Jones closely as her devout fans. We watched her shows on the internet right after they happen in real time, and read concert critiques about her performances while thinking “Wish she would come to Turkey so that we could go and listen”, not knowing this is exactly what would happen in a couple of years…
Then her second album “Feels Like Home” came along. We thought Norah would be releasing an album once every two years. The producer of this second album was a familiar name: Arif Mardin. However, while we knew all the songs from the first album by heart, only the first single “Sunrise” was memorable, had jazz foundations and was awarded with a Grammy. While listening to this album on the CD player, which we bought so happily, Norah Jones has traded in her jazz maturity and ‘honky-tonk piano’ sound for country in most pieces in this album. Yes, she did enter the Billboard 200 list as the first, but she didn’t have any pieces in the Billboard 100 list. The sales numbers didn’t even reach the first album! Meanwhile, she won another Grammy Award for her collaboration with Ray Charles; “Here We Go Again”. This jazzy piece was included in Ray Charles’s album “Genius Loves Company”, which was rightfully crowned as the “Album of the Year” at the Grammy Awards.
Three years had passed, she made us question “What if?” with her next album “Not Too Late”, and entered the Billboard 200 list from the top. Arif Mardin didn’t produce this folksy album. We thought “Eh, alright.”
Two more years passed and she went completely off her usual path with “The Fall” and got involved with alternative rock. Her listeners were expecting a “transitional album” and they were not surprised and without further ado, she compiled pieces she performed alongside other musicians in “…Featuring Norah Jones”.
She waited a total of three years to release another studio album after “The Fall”, and delved into ‘indie’ music with “Little Broken Hearts”. I believe many music lovers, including me, didn’t even comment on this album. I will be honest and admit that I skipped “Foreverly”, the Reprise album she recorded with Billie Joe Armstrong, the vocalist of the punk rock band Green Day.
Meanwhile, everybody had her first album in mind, asking “Where is this girl?”
Really, where was this girl?
After hearing the first single “Carry On” that she released in the beginning of this August, and listening to “It’s a Wonderful Time for Love” from the album, I decided that Norah Jones is back!
Norah Jones returns to her piano-based sound which we heard in “Come Away With Me” following her other guitar based albums and jazz lovers and her dedicated admirers let out a sigh of relief. We cannot say that this joy on her listeners’ part comes easy, because enlisting such masters like Wayne Shorter, Lonnie “Dr.” Smith, John Patitucci and Brian Blade under the same roof and the same project surely is the dream of every jazz musician. Keeping in mind that she had composed her previous albums with her guitar, the fact that Norah composed the majority this one with her piano that she keeps in the kitchen right next to her baby’s room might be a small detail for her, but is interesting to know for us as her listeners.
“Flipside”, similar to “Yollar” from Esra Kayıkçı’s “Bozgun Hatıra”, is an up-tempo piece that feels like a song to listen to while on the road. Flipside, which features Lonnie Smith who creates miracles with his Hammond B3, is a relaxing piece to listen to while in your car on the road without much traffic during a late afternoon.
“Tragedy” tells the story of a “lost life” in the exact sense of these words, and then the only real love sought in this piece is found in “And Then There Was You”. These two pieces are the most emotional ones in the album.
I felt closest and most connected to “It’s a Wonderful Time for Love” among the pieces in the album, because I came to love jazz through listening to bebop, hard bop and modal jazz. This could be a good introductory piece for those who aren’t familiar with Norah Jones. The first single of the album, “Carry On” embodies influences from New Orleans jazz, and it is worth paying attention to with is beautiful video clip.
Neil Young’s blues-heavy “Don’t Be Denied”, the famous Horace Silver classic “Peace” which Norah visited previously in her 2001 EP “First Sessions” and “Fleurette Africaine (African Flower)” from Duke Ellington’s 1963 United Artists album “Money Jungle” which he recorded with Charles Mingus on the bass and Max Roach on the drums are the successful cover pieces included in Norah Jones’s album.
The first steps of Norah Jones’s new album “Day Breaks”, in which she returns to her roots and the sound everyone has missed, were taken during the concert organized for the 75th birthday of Blue Notes in July 2014 with “I’ve Got To See You Again” with Wayne Shorter on the sax, Jason Moran on the piano, John Patitucci on the bass and Brian Blade on the drums. This album is a good one to include in your achieves.