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Guitarist Adam Levy's collaboration with vocalist Norah Jones resulted in
a slew of Grammys. See them live in concert at Meadow Brook Musical Festival.
hen guitarist Adam Levy
met jazz vocalist Norah
Jones in the late 1990s,
little did he suspect that
within a few years they would be mak-
ing Grammy history.
Jones and her album Come Away with
Me (Blue Note; 2002) and its hit single,
"Don't Know Why," won eight
Grammys at February's award ceremony,
including Album of the Year, Record of
the Year, Best New Artist, Song of the
Year, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best
Female Pop Vocal Performance. It was a
Levy's gentle and beautiful guitar play-
ing is a genuine highlight of Jones' plat-
inum-selling album. His understated,
sweet guitar style perfectly accompanies
Jones' sultry and delicate vocals.
Reviewers have called Levy's playing
"top-notch"; others have remarked that
he plays guitar "with a quiet passion."
In April of this year, Levy — who has
previously recorded and toured with
Tracy Chapman — also released a solo
CD, Get Your Glow On (Lost Wax;
2003). With soulful instrumentals and
bluesy vocal numbers, the album fea-
tures cameo appearances by Otis Clay,
the Holmes Brothers, and — who else?
— Norah Jones.
In the wake of Jones' spectacular
Grammy acclaim, Levy has joined her
on a 10-week national tour. They will
appear 8 p.m. Saturday, July 5, at
Meadow Brook Music Festival.
The Jewish News spoke to Levy while
he was on tour with Jones in Myrtle
bit skeptical. I tend to lean toward music
that is more intimate. How is that going
to translate to 5,000 or 10,000 people?
Somehow it does. I think it's a ripple
effect. The people in front get excited,
and that ripples out to the people 10
hero. He made a big career out of play-
ing music. He would take me to the stu-
dios in Hollywood when I was 6 years
old. It looked like a good job.
I had no idea about playing in rock
bands or touring. I thought having a
career in music was working in a record-
ing studio. I thought it was a great job,
mostly because my grandfather seemed
like the happiest guy I'd ever met.
JN: Do you enjoy touring?
AL: I'm kind of a homebody. But play-
JN: At what point did you get interest-
ed in guitar?
JN: Before we talk about the tour
you're on right now, tell me about your
AL: For my bar mitzvah present,
JN: I won't ask. But I do want to ask
more about your guitar playing. When
did you start?
AL: I started playing when I was about
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Where the Jewish
when I was 13, my dad said, "Tell you
what, kid, if you're really serious, I'll get
you whatever guitar you want. But
you've got to take it seriously."
And the guitar he got me for my 13th
birthday I still play. It's my main guitar.
It's a Gibson ES-335 — a great guitar. I
still have it and I love it.
JN: Your guitar playing is very intimate
and subtle. What's it like taking music
which has that kind of intimacy and
putting it in the larger venues?
AL: It's tricky. At first, all of us were a
ing for a whole bunch of people, that's
something you can't do in your home-
town no matter what. It would take
probably five years to play for this many
people if we just stayed in New York.
JN: Norah. Jones has been getting so
much attention and airplay. I imagine
that changes things a lot when you're
on tour, right?
AL: Oh, yeah. I've known Norah for
about four years. When I met her, she
had no original songs, no record deal or
anything. She was just singing jazz gigs
around New York. I've seen this whole
thing build little by little.
Every time we went out [on tour], it
got bigger and bigger. Next thing I
knew, we have two big rig trucks, two
tour buses and many people that travel
JN: Does that seem a little surreal?
AL: Yeah. Up until this tour, Norah
checked into the hotel under her own
name. If you were a clever fan, you
could figure out what hotel she was stay-
ing at and call her room. Now, she can't
do that anymore. I can't tell you what
her secret name is [laughing].
10. And I'm 36 now, so you can do the
JN: Do you have early memories of
being drawn to music? Or being drawn
to the guitar?
AL: Before I played guitar, I played
piano. In my earliest memories, there
was always a piano around because my
grandfather played piano.
To me, my grandfather was a super-
AL: In fifth or sixth grade, I went to
summer camp and I saw the counselors
play guitar. This was closer to what
excites me about playing music. Playing
with other people.
The way the camp counselors played
sounded more like the records I was lis-
tening to. Eventually, my mom went to
the closet and dug out a guitar case and
opened it up and said, "Have a good
By the following summer, I could play
with people, and I was so excited.
JN: At what point did you get interest-
ed in jazz?
AL: Somewhere around ninth grade. I
wanted to be in the band in school, but
the only way you could play electric gui-
tar in a school band was in the jazz
band. I was the only freshman in the
band. Everyone else was a senior.
They would say, "Have you ever heard
this Miles Davis record? Have you ever
heard Coltrane?" That was a big deal,
getting to borrow those records.