20 years ago, the success of Norah Jones saved the Blue Note jazz label. – culture

Twenty years have passed since then, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Norah Jones rescued the coolest jazz label of all time, Blue Note Records, with the not-so-great album Come Away With Me, now in an anniversary edition. At the time, the parent company considered excluding the label from the archive, which was not only the home of Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, and Lee Morgan, but also the visual language on the covers of the recordings with photographs of Francis Wolff and drawings of Andy form Warhol de Cole. But then Jones has sold three million albums in the first year (30 albums currently), eight Grammys, 20 number one worldwide, and one hit single with “I Don’t Know Why”. When she met for an interview in the Blue Note office, it was moving furniture there because the company was allowed to move into more elegant rooms.

Now you can admit it. The guy (that is, me) thought the album was awful. But then I (me) was still a young, cool, and cynical native of New York City. To sum up, by anecdotal, Norah Jones topped a festival in Manhattan’s southern tip that summer. He played Robbie Williams in the opening chapter. And then, after an hour of Sinatra-like full throttle, came Jones along with her melancholy piano strings and her incredibly somber voice that spread across New York Bay like a silk scarf. After a few bars one of them said, “Man. This makes me want to cut my wrist.” Ha ha ha I agree.

Times are different now. Nobody jokes about mental illness anymore. I am old, unwieldy, and live in the well-known friendly city of Munich. And Nora Jones? Getting better and better as a singer and songwriter, and still hitting the charts, she’s changed a lot more than her record company’s net worth. This becomes apparent when listening to the anniversary edition of “Come Away With Me” again as a mental history document.

Half a year after the September 11 attacks, she was shocked by the zeitgeist

Twenty years ago, she was the first to repeatedly assert that none of this was jazz anyway, even if she wanted to be a jazz singer. “Why do I sing standards? Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Dina Washington did it so much better,” she said among the moving boxes on Blue Note at the time. Officially, she was right. On the album it breathes and sparkles and slides along, nothing just swings, nothing grooves, and on a cold scale, it’s open from the top, that’s clearly in the missing range.

In retrospect, it is much more understandable why “Come Away With Me” has become “a generation’s favorite record,” as the anniversary press transcript now claims. You should not confuse them with the youth of that time. Above all, Norah Jones found a way to appeal to the target group of people over the age of 40, who didn’t have any current pop music at the time. But that was mainly an age group that – as then-Blue Note president Bruce Lundvall quipped – “hasn’t yet figured out how to steal music from the internet”. Hence the sales.

Norah Jones, “Come Away With Me”.

(Photo: blue note)

And the Duke Ellington credo “mean nothing (if you don’t get that swing)” also dates back to 1931. Ellington disbanded himself long ago. He formulated the actual doctrine of jazz when, in an interview with MusicJournal He said in 1962, “There are only two kinds of music. Good music and the other.” How well Jones performed in 2002 is demonstrated above all by the demo tapes in the anniversary edition, discovering the “lost album” caliber. Do you (I) have to review the ruling since then? In all cases.


Sometimes she sings solo, sometimes in a small vocal crew, with a clarity and emotionality that remains extraordinary. The way it succeeded had more to do with jazz than the hyper-producing pop of the time (Eminem, Nickelback Avril Lavigne dominated the charts at the time). In Ellington’s spirit, I found a way to turn blues, folklore, country, pop, and jazz into completely American music that wasn’t broad-legged and sweet, but rather weak and sad. Half a year after the 9/11 attacks, I shocked the zeitgeist that continues to this day. Which is reflected at least in Blue Note.

Swing and Cool are now just two of the many jazz charts out there. Few understood this besides new Blue Note boss Don Wass, who was a rock star in his past life. You just have to listen to the new spring releases. There’s Emmanuel Wilkins, who explores in The Seventh Hand the profound spirituality he experienced as a child in African American churches. PreviousBath PlusPianist Ethan Iverson cultivates an understanding of the aesthetics of “Every Right Note,” a concept more deeply rooted in the grand gestures of film music. Vibraphone player Joel Ross celebrates his gift of composition in “Like a Poet” with a richness reminiscent of Charles Mingus. Pianist Gerald Clayton finds himself cutting chamber music on “Bells on Sand.” Trombone Shorty, on the other hand, translates the crazy dance music of his hometown of New Orleans into a gift between brass, funk and rock band. In June, saxophonist Charles Lloyd will release the triple album “Chappelle” with bassist Bill Frissell and bassist Thomas Morgan, devoting themselves to jingles. No, it’s not great at all. But if you’re looking for the golden early years of the Blue Note, you can still watch the great documentary “It Must Schwing!” In the 3 Sat media library until the end of May. Watching, watching. Or listen to the many re-releases without was. With great passion and swung in all the nuances. Very cool.

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