I went to a delightfully quirky pop/jazz  show last night — Rickie Lee Jones at Westbury, NYCB Theatre (12/09/10).

I say quirky because of The Duchess of Coolsville’s music is genre bending — bluesy, boozey, laid back, smokey, jazz pop songs of great beauty and delicacy, held improbably together by that distinctively different voice of hers. She sports a vocal range that careens from 10 year old girl to scat impresario to deep, powerful blues singer.

Jones has had a surprising run of hit singles, despite her eclectic jazz style. 1979′s “Chuck E.’s in Love,” hit #4 on the Billboard charts (Young Blood” was the other single from the first album, Rickie Lee Jones); Her next album, Pirates spawned 3 hit singles: “A Lucky Guy,” “Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue),” and “Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking.” Later singles include “The Real End” (1984), “Satellites” (1989), and “Old Enough” (2009)

Her music is lovely and complex, and they were performed loosely by a 7 piece ensemble. At the show I went to, Jones got her best known pop tune, Chuck E’s in Love, out of the way quickly, playing it first, then settled down to an evening of outstanding (albeit somewhat sedate) music. Alternating between an acoustic guitar and a grand piano, she proceeded to play the best of her first two albums (Rickie Lee Jones, and Pirates) practically in sequence.

If you like female jazz vocalists flavored with a dollop of pop, these first two discs are gems. I own nearly RLJ’s full catalog. I was pleasantly surprised by her most recent outing, Balm in Gilead.

Last night, I recall hearing: Chuck E’s In Love, On Saturday Afternoons In 1963,  Night Train, Young Blood, Easy Money, The Last Chance Texaco, Danny’s All-Star Joint, Coolsville, Weasel And The White Boys Cool, Company, After Hours, We Belong Together, Living It Up, Skeletons, Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking, Pirates (so long lonely avenue), A Lucky Guy, Traces of the Western Slopes, The Returns.

I would love to get the actual concert set list . . .


See also:
The official Rickie Lee Jones Website



Videos – including a few from last night’s show — are after the jump

At the NYCB Theater at Westbury Dec-9-2010:

Danny’s All-Star Joint


Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train To Peking


Danny’s All-Star Joint (Acoustic)

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music

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10 Responses to “Friday Nite Jazz: Rickie Lee Jones”

  1. Clay says:

    Thanks Barry for the videos and commentary. I picked up her first album soon after release I suppose in 1979 and liked it so much became a bit burned out from listening to it so much at that time. Very creative. I still listen to it often. I have another album somewhere…..misplaced, and can’t remember the name. It did not make as big an impression as the first album.

  2. philipat says:

    Agreed she is very creative. “We belong together” brings back very happy memories of……………..well, another time.

    I envy your ability to catch all these performances. For sure one of the benefits of living around Gotham.

  3. April says:

    I really like Flying Cowboys

  4. merrill says:

    Always knew you were a man of taste, Barry.

  5. srvbeach21 says:

    Must have been a great concert.

    @ April, that’s one of my all-time favorite albums. I put it on the record player the first nice day every spring and sit on the porch and take it all in. The lines near the end of the title track get me every time:

    Were you walking on the water?
    Playing in the sun?
    But the world is turning faster
    than it did when I was young

  6. wojo says:

    I was crazy about her in the early ’80s.

    I saw her perform live in Denver in ’82. She was very high, slurring her words, almost incoherent. The band kept trying to get her back on track, to no avail. She played a short set, came back for a short encore, then the house lights came up, people began leaving — and then she came back onstage again to play another two song encore. The whole thing was a mess. She was out of her mind. It was very sad.

    But I will never forget how the sound of her album “Pirates” cast an aura upon the way I saw my life.

  7. rip says:

    She is indeed a special talent. Like a lot of us, she has her phases and demons.

  8. zitidiamond says:

    And, for those who looking for some holiday spirit, here’s Rickie with the Chieftains, in an outstanding rendition of “O Holy Night:”


  9. Joe Friday says:

    Somebody put up video from Westbury, but I can’t view it where I am today:


  10. wnsrfr says:

    Would like to report that “Ricky Lee Jones” is proving an excellent seed for a Pandora Station…thanks for the thought, Barry…