Nate Smith & Norah Jones – “Collaborating”

The collaborative process is incredibly important for musicians – particularly jazz musicians. In this Session, Nate Smith and Norah Jones break down their most recent collaboration and discuss what it means to be an effective collaborator.


Subject: Nate Smith has developed a reputation in the industry as not only one of the best drummers, but also one of the most effective collaborators. In this “Collaborating” series, Nate speaks with three musicians he’s worked with on various projects. Your students will get a first hand look at the collaboration process and learn what it takes to be an effective collaborator.

In this episode of the series, Nate met up with Norah Jones over Zoom to discuss their collaboration on Norah’s song “To Live”, from her album “Pick Me Up Off the Floor”, released in 2020.

Intended for intermediate to advanced level students, ages 14 and up. Experience playing an instrument, and a basic understanding of musical terminology is recommended.

Topics Discussed: Collaboration, songwriting, drums, piano, jazz, recording.

Recommended Use: We recommend this video be used to teach intermediate to advanced level students about the importance of the collaborative process and how to become a better collaborator.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Nate Smith is such an effective collaborator? Why do so many musicians want to work with him?
  • What does Norah look for in a musician when selecting who to collaborate with?
  • What is Norah’s philosophy on collaboration? Does she prefer to “micromanage” the process?
  • Norah says that drummer Brian Blade, “plays to the lyrics”. What does she mean by this?

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Hosted by Christian McBride


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