This week in music: Norah Jones and a bit of “non-jazz” a la NRBQ.


If we lived in a perfectly just artistic world, the cult band of cult bands, The National Rhythm and Blues Quartet, (NRBQ) would have been one of the earliest additions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And bands like The Go-Go’s would have had to wait for the umpteenth 80’s nostalgia wave to get their seat. Nothing against the Go-Go’s or Bananarama or any other MTV staple from the Reagan years, but their output simply pales in comparison to this toiling group of stalwarts.  And they have never had the  commercial recognition they deeply deserve. Their music is everywhere from bar jukeboxes to Simpson episodes. But not on most radio.

Bassist and co founder Joey Spaminato was said to be the Paul McCartney of The Bronx. Sadly, he took seriously ill not long ago. The life of a musician can be rife with struggles, especially an obscure one. But thank heavens for the music community! “Party For Joey, A Sweet Relief Tribute To Joey Spaminato” (True North) may be the elixir he needs. If I haven’t sold his and NRBQ’s credibility enough, consider the heavy hitters on this compilation: Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, Peter Case, Penn And Teller, Ben Harper, Keith Richards are but a few. Proceeds will go toward covering Spaminato’s medical expenses. Expect to hear tracks in roots and jazz programming.

How Did Norah Jones become like a comfortable pair of shoes? Maybe she always was one. The daughter of Ravi Shankar and half sister of Anoushka Shankar has a musical style that doesn’t even approach her kin. A great creator and interpreter of songs in a variety of genres, Jones has a laid back countenance and piano style, (guitar too) that has served her well. It’s easy to forget that her first record was a Grammy smash at a time when nobody was doing that type of music. Not surprisingly, that success spawned many imitators .

Not quite a compilation, “‘Til We Meet Again” (Blue Note) is a live date that serves as a scrap book of what’s she’s done in the last few decades. Hit’s like Hank Williams “Cold Cold Heart” her own “Those Sweet Words” and Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” should serve as a reminder that a slow burn is often the best. If you require one, that is.

Kevin O’Connor/Music Director-Show Host


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