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Blue Note Records to release soundtrack to Wong Kar Wai’s new film ‘My Blueberry Nights’

Album due out Feb. 5 featuring a new song by Norah Jones, music by Cat Power, Otis Redding, Ruth Brown, Mavis Staples, Amos Lee, Cassandra Wilson & selections from Ry Cooder’s score

Film Is Wong’s English-Language Debut Starring Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz & Natalie Portman

On February 5, 2008, Blue Note Records will release My Blueberry Nights, music from the new motion picture by director Wong Kar Wai (2046, In The Mood For Love, Happy Together). The first-ever English film by the acclaimed Hong Kong director, My Blueberry Nights is a romantic drama set as an American road movie starring Norah Jones in her acting debut, along with a stellar cast featuring Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman. The Weinstein Company will release My Blueberry Nights in U.S. theaters on February 13, 2008.

The soundtrack album is an impressive collection that stands on its own apart from the film. It features a wide swath of American music both new and old that touches upon R&B, Soul, Rock, Folk and Jazz, including The Story, a new song by Norah Jones based on her experience in the film, as well as music by Cat Power, Otis Redding, Ruth Brown, Mavis Staples, Amos Lee, Cassandra Wilson, and instrumental selections from the score by Ry Cooder.

In a review of My Blueberry Nights’ debut as the Opening Night Film of the 60th Cannes Film Festival in May, The Hollywood Reporter praised Jones’ performance, declaring it “an auspicious acting debut…The glue here is Jones, who holds a wispy, wistful film together with a deeply felt, unselfconscious performance that strikes the right notes without ever falling into repetition or banality. She brings her singer’s talent of knowing when to go for emotions and when to hold back to her acting. It’s a remarkably assured work.”

In the film, Elizabeth (Jones) is a disenchanted young woman who embarks on a soul-searching journey to distance herself from a broken heart. As emotional wounds begin to fade, Elizabeth’s experiences with a series of disconnected strangers lead to new and unexpected chapters in her life. From the poetic musings of a late-night café owner (Law), to the propositions of a down-on-her-luck gambler (Portman), to the broken bond between a troubled cop (Strathairn) and his rebellious wife (Weisz), these individuals redefine Elizabeth’s perspectives on life, relationships and, ultimately, her own identity. Shot across the United States in New York, Memphis, Nevada, California, and along the legendary Route 66, the film is an intimate tale of love and self-discovery that features Wong’s trademark visual flair and colorful characters.

“I got a call that Wong Kar Wai was looking for me,” says Jones, recounting how she ended up in her first-ever acting role. “I really didn’t know anything about him, so I watched In The Mood For Love and thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I thought maybe he wanted music so I had lunch with him and he asked me if I wanted to be in the movie!”

“I was first introduced to Norah through her music,” explains Wong. “As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know what she looked like at the time. However, her voice intrigued me. It was so visual that it gave me a very specific image of her. I found Norah to be a natural actress who also allows her instincts to guide her.”

In between shoots for the film, Jones had managed to find time to record Not Too Late, her third album for Blue Note, which was released in January 2007 to critical acclaim, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart and going on to sell over four million copies worldwide. Originally, it was agreed that the multi-Grammy Award winner wouldn’t contribute any music to the film’s soundtrack so that she could focus on acting instead. However, at the last minute Wong changed his mind.

“He asked if I had any songs that would go with the soundtrack, and actually there was this song I wrote one morning at 6 a.m. after we had finished shooting in New York City, and I came home and I wasn’t tired yet,” Jones explains. “I went into my piano room which faces east and I watched the sun come up. It was so beautiful. I wrote that song that morning, very quickly, it just kind of came out. And then when he asked if I had any songs to contribute, that song made sense because it definitely was influenced by my experience in the film.”

The Story—which opens both the film and soundtrack album—reflects upon Jones’ apprehension as a first-time actor (“I don’t know how to begin”) and Wong’s notoriously improvisational style of script-writing on the fly (“I don’t know how it will end”). It’s the sole new song on a diverse soundtrack featuring new and classic American music that Jones herself had a hand in selecting.

“[Wong] asked me before we started shooting if I would give him some music choices. He gave me a stack of photographs from their location scout and said to pick some music that goes along with the pictures. So I picked music that I already loved and also thought would fit. We ended up using a lot of the music during shooting. He would use the music to set up the mood or get the timing right.”

As Wong writes in the album’s liner notes: “In order to understand how [Elizabeth] might travel from one ocean to the other, I took that long journey myself, not once but three times—three different routes from New York to Santa Monica… Mile after mile, the view outside my window and the music from the car stereo synched in unexpected ways to give me my first glimpse into the landscape of Elizabeth’s heart. These trips not only shaped the story of MBN, but the soundtrack as well.”

Wong is no stranger to using American music in his films (consider his prominent use of The Mamas and The Papas’ California Dreamin’ in 1994′s Chungking Express), typically setting a classic American song against a Hong Kong backdrop, a jarring technique that beautifully expressed his character’s isolation or longing.

The opposite is true of My Blueberry Nights, with the music going hand-in-hand with the setting and perfectly capturing the landscapes and emotions. Most of the songs on the soundtrack are rooted in various American musical styles including R&B, Soul, Rock, Folk and Jazz, and they all reflect upon love and loss from different perspectives, whether it be Cassandra Wilson’s spacious, dreamy take on Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, Mavis Staples’ driving rendition of the traditional Eyes on the Prize (which was produced by Ry Cooder), or Cat Power’s sweet sad updating of Memphis soul on Living Proof and The Greatest (Chan Marshall also makes a cameo appearance in the film).

Amos Lee’s soulful Skipping Stone acknowledges the hurt of heartbreak (“I don’t know if I can do this alone / After all our sweet love has flown”), but almost seems to be reassuring Elizabeth’s character that “Lovers will come / Lovers will go.”

Two classics—Otis Redding’s soaring Try A Little Tenderness and Ruth Brown’s regretful Looking Back—perfectly complement the heart-wrenching story set in Memphis of a lost love between an alcoholic cop who desperately struggles to hold on to his estranged wife despite her cold determination to begin a new life for herself.

The musical glue of the film and soundtrack album, however, are the instrumental selections from the score by Ry Cooder (Paris, Texas, Buena Vista Social Club), roots rock miniatures that convey the spaciousness and moodiness of the film. Three of Cooder’s instrumentals appear on the album—Ely Nevada, Long Ride and Busride—as well as a lovely instrumental piece by Oscar-winning Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel) entitled Pajaros.

1. The Story (Norah Jones)
Performed by Norah Jones

2. Living Proof (Chan Marshall)
Performed by Cat Power
From the album The Greatest (Matador Records)

3. Ely Nevada (R.Cooder-J.Cooder)
Performed by Ry Cooder

4. Try A Little Tenderness (Campbell-Connelly-Woods)
Performed by Otis Redding
From the album Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (Atlantic Records)

5. Looking Back (Benton-Otis)
Performed by Ruth Brown
From the album Black Is Brown and Brown Is Beautiful (Passport Records)

6. Long Ride (R.Cooder-J.Cooder)
Performed by Ry Cooder

7. Eyes on the Prize (Tradional arr. Cooder-Staples)
Performed by Mavis Staples
From the album We’ll Never Turn Back (Anti/Epitaph Records)

8. Yumeji’s Theme (Shigeru Umebayashi)
Performed by Chikara Tsuzuki

9. Skipping Stone (Amos Lee)
Performed by Amos Lee
From the album Supply and Demand (Blue Note Records)

10. Bus Ride (Martin Pradler)
Performed by Ry Cooder

11. Harvest Moon (Neil Young)
Performed by Cassandra Wilson
From the album New Moon Daughter (Blue Note Records)

12. Devil’s Highway (Cooder-Commagere-Smith-Messelbeck)
Performed by Hello Stranger

13. Pajaros (Gustavo Santaolalla)
Performed by Gustavo Santaolalla

14. The Greatest (Chan Marshall)
Performed by Cat Power
From the album The Greatest (Matador Records)

VARIOUS ARTISTS  My Blueberry Nights  Blue Note 97853  January 15, 2008

For more press information, please contact:
Matt Hanks at Shore Fire Media – 718.522.7171 or mhanks@shorefire.com
JR Rich at Blue Note Records – 212.786.8628 or jr.rich@bluenotelabelgroup.com

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