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Phases and Stages

Live Shot

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, August 30, 2002, Music

Norah Jones

Paramount Theatre, August 21

"Since we're in Austin, we're gonna do a song special to Austin," declared Norah Jones the night before her Austin City Limits taping. "Special to us. I got to sing this song with Willie Nelson. It was sooo cool!" Likewise was the manner in which the 22-year-old Brooklyn-based/ Dallas-taught pianist sang Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night." Having already swayed her way through a subtle re-arrangement of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart," from the singer's recent Blue Note debut, Jones and her backing Triple A jazz trio probably could've emulsified a saloon glow onto any number of country and western standards. Such is the voice of Ravi Shankar's daughter: thick with body, and cured with Southern accents. A voice like Willie's, suitable for crooning the yellow pages as well as highlights from the great American songbooks. A voice aged and elegant like the Paramount Theatre, sold-out and teeming with adoration. Classic voices luxuriate in classic material, the originals off Jones' Come Away With Me facilitating an excellent start with "Don't Know Why," "Feelin' the Same Way," and the album's title track, all of which held their own against age-old seducers like "Comes Love" and Hoagy Carmichael's melting "The Nearness of You." Another highlight from Come Away With Me, "The Nearness of You," performed solo by Jones toward the end of her 90-minute set, turned the lamplight on her lacquered black grand particularly low. A slightly overgenerous helping of new songs were served up, illuminating the fact that Jones hasn't integrated any classic soul into her shows. She's got time. "I'm thinking of moving here," she gushed before "Tennessee Waltz" finished a three-song encore. "But I have to ask -- I ask every time I get here: How's the traffic?"

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