Norah Jones rediscovers the piano and finds contentment on her latest album, Day Breaks | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Norah Jones rediscovers the piano and finds contentment on her latest album, Day Breaks 

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click to enlarge Norah Jones

Norah Jones

Danny Clinch

In 2014 singer and pianist Norah Jones shared the Kennedy Center stage with legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter and drummer Brian Blade—both of whom played on her first couple of albums—for an event celebrating the 75th anniversary of her label, Blue Note, later telling writer Nate Chinen of the New York Times that she wanted those jazz veterans on her next record. Sure enough, they (along with Shorter quartet bassist John Patitucci) both turned up on last year’s Day Breaks, fitting in beautifully on a trio of tracks, including a version of Duke Ellington’s gorgeous “Fleurette Africaine” where Shorter’s soprano lines weave profoundly through gentle grooves, imparting a deep sonic wisdom. The record has been frequently billed as Jones’s return to her jazz roots; really, though, it marks her return to piano after several years of focusing on guitar, and to a style similar to the urbane, sophisticated pop that made her a Starbucks-generation darling. Yet there’s still something different—her voice has never sounded more full-bodied and expressive, and there’s an occasional undercurrent of turbulence. On “Flipside” she opens up the throttle, reveling in self-discovery as she sings forcefully, “I finally know who I’m supposed to be / My mind was locked but I found the key / Hope it don’t all slip away from me.” Yes, this is adult pop music squarely located in the middle of the road, but within that chill, comforting zone Jones still has few peers.   v

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