Norah Jones

I first heard Norah Jones several weeks into an Alpha Course run by the local church. We would always start with dinner, and during dinner music would be playing in the background. A couple of months into the course Norah Jones was playing in the background.

Knowing that Jacquie usually brought along someone worth listening to I checked out who was playing and saw it was Norah Jones.

At first, having got a copy of Feels Like Home to listen to I did not like it too much. After listening to Katie Melua's debut album, Call Off The Search, it was a tad too bland, and a bit too country.

That was my initial reaction, but listening another day, in a different mood, I found it grew on me and was actually quite good.

Some will, and many do, compare Norah Jones with Katie Melua. The comparison is very superficial. The mood is different and you need to be in a different mood to listen to Norah Jones, who, if the mood is not right, sounds very bland in comparison (Katie is more upbeat). Norah Jones is more blues with a little country, simple tunes that are a delight to listen to, with excellent musicians, very laid back, and if anything, like Rickie Lee Jones. Where the comparison is meaningful, is that two talented performers, with excellent backing musicians, have made it to the top of the album charts, and considering the rubbish usually found in the album charts, that is no mean achievement.

Blues, with a little bit of country and a hint of jazz.

Norah Jones comes from a very talented musical family. Her half-sister is the widely acclaimed sitar player Anoushka Shankar, their father world-renowned master of the sitar Pandit Ravi Shankar.

A major criticism of Feels Like Home, is not the contents or performance, but the fact that it contains copy protection, which causes major problems on some equipment where it will not play.

A second major criticism is the attempt to load software on a computer if autoplay is enabled. And if that is not enough, the software attempts back door communication with the net and tries to download files. This was detected and stopped by a firewall, which then caused the installation software to abort.

Copy-protected CDs are strictly speaking not CDs as they fail to meet the Phillips standards for CDs. Phillips, the joint-holders with Sony of the Compact Disc standards, have gone so far as to describe copy- protected CDs as 'worthless pieces of plastic', as there is no guarantee they will play on any CD device.

Anoushka Shankar is the only artist in the world to be trained completely by her father and legendary sitar virtuoso and composer, Ravi Shankar. At the age of 13 she made her performing debut in New Delhi, India, and began assisting her father at all his concerts worldwide. That same year, Anoushka entered the recording studio for the first time to play on her father's recording, In Celebration. Two years later she helped as conductor with her father and George Harrison on the 1997 Angel release, Chants of India. Shortly thereafter she signed an exclusive contract with Angel/EMI Classics. In 1998 her first solo recording, Anoushka, was released to tremendous critical acclaim. Her second album, Anourag, followed this two years later. October 2001 saw the release of her third CD Live at Carnegie Hall.

Ravi Shankar, legendary sitarist and composer, is India's most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he has done more for Indian music than any other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. This however, he did only after long years of dedicated study under his illustrious guru Baba Allaudin Khan and after making a name for himself in India. In the period of the awakening of the younger generation in the mid 1960s, Ravi Shankar gave three memorable concerts - Monterey Pop Festival, Concert for Bangla Desh and The Woodstock Festival. Ravi Shankar has several disciples, including his daughter Anoushka Shanka, and many of them are now very succesful concert artists and composers. In the West, Ravi Shankar is best known for his association with George Harrison.

For Jacquie for once again sharing her good taste in music with the rest of us on the Alpha Course and Nick for asking her to bring it along.
(c) Keith Parkins 2004 -- April 2004 rev 1