Review: Nora Michaels Blues Chanteuse — ‘Blue Lullaby’

Seattle has long been known as the hometown of jazz pioneers from the Jackson Street era, with Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Ernestine Anderson all getting their start in the district decades ago. The Blues Chanteuse aka Nora Michaels also got her start in the emerald city and has been singing ballads and torch songs in nightclubs for over fifty years. To celebrate her 71st birthday, Michaels is releasing her latest EP, Blue Lullaby, in December of 2018. The seven new tracks feature her Blues Chanteuse Band and special guests on a collection of classic jazz lounge styled originals.

The set opens with the title track “Blue Lullaby,” a glorious jazz ballad that evokes the great ladies of song, written by Portland’s Chris Carlson, long time partner of blues Legend Duffy Bishop, and features the fine saxophone of Ron Baker. Award-winning northwest songwriter Michele D’Amour lent Michaels one her songs, the slow burning jazzy blues lament “Worthy.” Croatian-born classically trained folk and blues musician, Radoslav Lorković delivers tasty accordion to the cabaret rhumba “Waiting On Love,” while Michaels pays tribute to French icon Édith Piaf on the tune penned by Duffy Bishop. The smooth walking bass of David Salonen holds all the pieces of the swinging “Rest Assured,” together in a tight package. Sam Weis add Spanish guitar to the mix on the gentle tango “It’s Not Over,” as Michaels pleads with her lover on the dynamic track. The sentimental sway of “Turn the Lights Down Low,” has a Phil Spector ‘Wall of Sound,’ 60s girl group vibe. Album closer “No More Pain,” is a slice from the Nancy Sinatra playbook of saucy ladies rat pack jazz sizzle and snap.

(Check out a sample of the music below via Soundcloud and get info HERE about her CD Release Show set for December 28, 2018 at Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle.)  

Rick Bowen

Rick grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan playing in school band, choir and show bands. While earning a BA at Western Michigan University in History and Social Science, he was a member of the Bronco marching band and jazz ensemble Gold Company. Moving to the Northwest in 1994, Rick soon landed gigs and sessions with many diverse local artists and is currently a member of the award winning Stacy Jones Band and the host of the all ages School of Jam. Rick is also an associate producer and session musician for Critical Sun Recordings, a contributing writer at Innocent Words, Seattle Examiner, No Depression, The Washington Blues Society and S.T.E.A.M magazine, and serves on the board of directors for the Washington Blues Society. Rick is endorsed by and plays THUMPER CUSTOM DRUMS. Awards: Washington Blues Society “Best of the Blues” award 2009 Best New Band –Stacy Jones Band WBS “Best of the Blues” award 2012 Best Blues Jam - Oxford Saloon Monday Night Jam 2013 & 2014 WBS Best Blues Writer award. 2014 WBS Chris Leighton Blues Drummer BB Award. Nominations: 2009 & 2013 Best Blues Drummer WBS BB awards. 2012 Best NW recording “No Need To Spell it Out –Stacy Jones Band (Rick J Bowen co producer)