Norah Jones released a new album, Live at Ronnie Scott’s, on June 15, 2018 on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital formats. If you are not already a Norah Jones fan, this album should make you fall in love with her beautifully haunting voice and charming, vulnerable personality. This is a must-have album for both jazz and pop music enthusiasts.
This live concert recording takes place at a legendary jazz venue, Ronnie Scott’s in London, England. Founded in 1959, jazz legends such as Earl “Fatha” Hines, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, Wynton Marsalis, and George Benson have entertained there. Norah Jones deserves to be in that company.
Jones was joined by drummer Brian Blade and bassist Christopher Thomas. They created a totally intuitive, mutually supporting musical presence.
Is It Jazz?
The night before watching Live at Ronnie Scott’s, I attended a concert at Austin’s ACL Live given by Diana Krall, another songstress who mesmerizes audiences from her bench in front of the piano. Later, my daughter shared with me her favorite Tori Amos videos. These three ladies deserve a special category in music, as all three of them transcend traditional genres.
The selections Jones chose for this concert, 16 in all plus a bonus track, include much of the material from her 2016 album, Day Breaks. She opens with “Sleeping Wild” and moves on to include “After the Fall” and “Flipside.”
She shows off her talent on the piano, and the ability of this trio to create a mood, giving a hypnotic performance of Duke Ellington’s “Fleurette Africaine (African Flower).” Finally, she closes with her Grammy Award-winning hit, “Don’t Know Why” and “I’ve Got to See You Again.”
So, is it jazz? You can call it that if you like. To me, it is a special genre called Norah Jones.
Not only are we treated to Jones’ deep, evocative voice, the album was beautifully recorded and includes special features including an interview with Jones done right before the concert. Paul Sexton, English print and broadcast journalist, a contributor to The Times and the BBC, conducted the interview.
Sexton asked about her co-performers, Blade and Thomas.
“They’re such great guys,” she said, “and to me we just clicked. I’m sure they click with everybody because they’re such great musicians. We’ve been trying to book this for a long time, and it just finally came together.”
“When I started thinking about doing the trio,” Jones explained, “I thought about going back to jazz, but it’s really just singing songs. It’s its own thing.”
Sexton explored her return to playing piano. “Is it like getting reacquainted with an old friend?” he asked.
“My relationship with the piano has changed a lot,” Jones said. “I think a long time ago I shied away from certain things. I’d think, ‘This sounds to pianoee,’ but now if I don’t like the sound, I change it to a way I like.”
The two of them go on to discuss Jones’ musical evolution, Blue Note Records, what it feels like to be on stage, and her influences, including Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson.
The cinematography is a case study in how to record a concert. Multiple, non-obtrusive camera locations let us view from the audience perspective, look out at the audience, and treat us to close-ups of Jones, her keyboarding, and her band.
Another bonus feature on the album is the extra track, “Burn.” You also get the ability to choose between Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and DTS surround sound. You can switch to subtitles in English, German, Spanish, French, or Portuguese. A menu from the main screen lets you select individual tracks.
The album is available at Norah Jones’ website, Amazon, and for download on iTunes. Need an immediate hit of Norah? She sings “And Then There Was You” at Ronnie Scott’s below.