Dr. Lonnie Smith
Norah Jones first emerged on the world stage with the February 2002 release of Come Away With Me, her self-described “moody little record” that introduced a singular new voice and grew into a global phenomenon, sweeping the 2003 Grammy Awards and signaling a paradigm shift away from the prevailing pop music of the time. Since then, Norah has sold over 45 million albums worldwide and become a 9-time Grammy-winner. She has released a series of critically acclaimed and commercially successful solo albums—Feels Like Home (2004), Not Too Late (2007), The Fall (2009), and Little Broken Hearts (2012)—as well as albums with her collective bands The Little Willies and Puss N Boots. The 2010 compilation …Featuring Norah Jones showcased her incredible versatility by collecting her collaborations with artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Outkast, Herbie Hancock, and Foo Fighters. Little Broken Hearts, which was produced by Danger Mouse, was a fascinating step in the artistic evolution of one of the music world’s most consistently intriguing singer-songwriters.
However, when Norah first moved from Texas to New York City in the Summer of 1999 it was with the hope of being a jazz singer, and she quickly found gigs singing jazz standards in restaurants and clubs around town. Around the same time she met Jesse Harris (who would collaborate on her debut album and write her breakout song “Don’t Know Why”) and soon fell into the singer-songwriter scene at the Living Room on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. By the time she recorded Come Away With Me her sound had changed direction and evolved into something much broader and more her own. But her jazz influences—from Bill Evans and Miles Davis to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone—have always remained.
In 2014, Norah travelled to Washington DC to take part in the Kennedy Center’s historic “Blue Note at 75” concert celebrating the 75th anniversary of the legendary label that Norah has called home since the late Bruce Lundvall signed her in 2000. Surrounded by a family of Blue Note musicians including McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Robert Glasper and others, Norah was inspired. After performing a gorgeous solo piano rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” she was joined by what she referred to on-stage as “one of the best bands I’ve ever played with” featuring Shorter on saxophone, Brian Blade on drums, John Patitucci on bass, and Jason Moran on piano for a stunning version of the Jesse Harris song “I’ve Got To See You Again” that appeared on Come Away With Me. That thrilling experience planted a seed…
Now Norah has come full circle with Day Breaks, a remarkable new album that finds her returning to her jazz roots while also proving her to be this era’s quintessential American artist, the purveyor of an unmistakably unique sound that weaves together the threads of several bedrock styles of American music: country, folk, rock, soul, jazz. Day Breaks is a kindred spirit to Come Away With Me, though it is unquestionably the work of a mature artist who has lived life and grown immensely in her craft. The album features jazz luminaries including saxophonist Wayne Shorter, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and drummer Brian Blade who played on Norah’s debut album and became the backbone (and backbeat) of the new album. Day Breaks is a set of 9 originals written or co-written by Norah with collaborators Sarah Oda and Pete Remm whose themes range from love in all its guises to the socio-political, as well as 3 covers of songs by Horace Silver (“Peace”), Duke Ellington (“Fleurette Africaine”) and Neil Young (“Don’t Be Denied”).