You can be forgiven for
a singer-pianist in the tradition of Shirley Horn and Diana Krall
Norah Jones may be Pandit Ravi Shankar's daughter,
but the "jazz" album Come Away with Me gives no evidence
that she has inherited his music
Norah Jones: Come Away with Me
She's a daughter of Ravi Shankar (the Ravi Shankar). Perhaps that doesn't count for much. Why should it, unless one believes, as this author doesn't, that genes alone can turn the trick when one's father didn't have anything to do with one's upbringing.
But she also comes with what looks like an outstanding record in jazz education, prizes, honours and what have you. Plus she claims the influence of such greats as Billie Holiday. And if you find her album in the jazz section at the music shop, you can be forgiven for expecting a singer-pianist in the tradition of the veteran Shirley Horn and Diana Krall, Horn's youthful follower.
Don't know why (that's the title of the opening number, incidentally!) one shouldn't be surprised, but mildly surprised one is - and more than mildly disappointed, in fact. All the jazz credentials are irrelevant since Norah Jones has chosen to make an album that has little or no jazz in it. Although she has a good voice for jazz -- without, however, the ironic edge in the voices of Krall, Horn and the greats of classic vocal jazz -- and shows that she is a talented pianist, all the numbers in this album are much closer to mid-century pop than to jazz. They are frankly sentimental without the swinging perkiness that the great jazz singers could put into simple love songs. Indeed, so far as I can judge with my limited knowledge of it, Jones leans distinctly towards the genre of country, perhaps influenced by her Texas upbringing.
None of this would matter but for the fact that one is led by the list of her academic honours and her influences to believe one might be getting jazz on this album. If one isn't, I don't know why one should be told about her jazz credentials. What one gets is easy listening - very easy listening, since I can remember some easy listening that comes much closer to passing for jazz, admittedly mostly by musicians who have worked in jazz.
Published on 6 August 2002
to the editor