Photo by Jim McQuaid
I have discovered that one of the sweetest sounds in music is that of the Hammond organ. It’s a mainstay of blues, early 70’s rock and at Ottawa Jazzfest Norah Jones had one in her band! Topping it off, it was the opening sound of her concert, I knew it would be a great show.
For me Norah Jones did not disappoint, it was what I was expecting, as was my friend Glen who joined me that evening. We lucked out on a good spot to put our chairs, the weather was perfect and through the evening I swayed to everything that Norah played switching between newer material and favourites from earlier albums.
Through the 90 minute set the fan favourites came out, and just as the appearance of the Hammond organ was a surprise, so was the musicianship of Ms. Jones (though I should not have been). While I am sure everyone was waiting for the hits from her debut Lp, she snuck “Come away with me” by stepping away from the piano and strapping an electric guitar around her neck and started the opening chords. Well received was Sunrise, for which Norah played acoustic guitar along while mentioning that she “often plays this song at sunset”.
One of the strongest performances of the evening was on Neil Young’s “Don’t be denied”, which she played as part of her encore, it’s a song she has performed with Neil at his Bridge School concerts. Her version comes from her 2016 Lp ‘Day Breaks’, a critically acclaimed album that was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 50 Lps of 2016 and has an average rating of 4 stars.
One of the cutest moments of the evening came at a point in the show where three fire engines roared down Laurier Ave heading downtown. Jones waited about 15 to 20 seconds for the fire trucks to pass before starting into ”Don’t know why” from her ‘Come with me’ debut album, the wait for it seems appropriate.
The band was tight and kudos go to her the musicians starting with keyboardist Pete Remm on the previously mentioned Hammond and other keyboards, Josh Latanzzi on bass and the grooviest drummer I have every seen play Greg Wieczorek, who had a groove going – he kept us moving all night long.
By the time the final strains of a very cool acoustic “Lonestar” floated into the night sky Norah was gone. Me with Ms. Jones at Jazzfest was one of the most satisfying shows I’ve seen in a long time. I got what I expected and more, including the sounds of a Hammond organ.
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