On May 11, 2014, Norah Jones took the stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., during “Blue Note at 75,” an all-star concert celebrating the rich history and robust health of jazz’s most iconic record company. The singer-songwriter and pianist-a Blue Note artist since the start of this century, signed by the late Bruce Lundvall when she was just 21-performed a solo version of the Hoagy Carmichael standard “The Nearness of You,” the last song on her 2002 debut, Come Away With Me: by far the label’s biggest mainstream-pop success, with more than 26 million copies sold worldwide.
Jones, now 37, then sang another ballad from that album, Jesse Harris’ Indo-blues shuffle “I’ve Got to See You Again,” playing it for the first time with a diamond-standard jazz band: saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade-three-fourths of Shorter’s titanic working quartet-plus pianist Jason Moran, the evening’s musical director. The result was a stunning, bonded ascension of voice and improvisation-“something I had never heard in my life,” recalls current Blue Note President Don Was, who was standing by the side of the stage. “I’d never had that cocktail before.”