Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

 |   |  1 min read

Herbie Hancock: The Jungle Line (featuring Leonard Cohen)
Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

Jazzman Hancock has long been a supporter of Mitchell so this tribute to her music -- with another longtime Joni sideman Wayne Shorter on saxes -- comes as no surprise. And Mitchell's music has long moved into that melodically flexible area jazz musicians inhabit.

What does surprise however is Mitchell's guest vocal on Tea Leaf Prophecy where she sounds darker and more husky than on her current new album Shine, and also Norah Jones' confident and equally deep reading of the highly personal Court And Spark.

Also on hand are a restrained Tina Turner (Edith and the Kingpin), Corinne Rae Bailey (on the title track in which she almost redeems her much over-rated career so far), Luciana Souza (Amelia) and Leonard Cohen speak-singing his way through The Jungle Line.

But with instrumental treatments of Mitchell's Both Sides Now and Sweet Bird, Ellington's Solitude and Shorter's Nefertiti woven between the vocal tracks this is more a Hancock-Shorter jazz outing where Mitchell's admittedly fine material is but the springboard.

The musicians -- Dave Holland on bass, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and guitarist Lionel Loueke who is in Hancock's touring band -- play with restraint, perhaps too much so in places, and sometimes the sense of reverence leads to opportunities for truly adventurous playing being lost.

But the elegant reverie established in pieces such as Both Sides Now redeems everything and my guess is Hancock listeners will find more here than Joni fans, even those who liked her jazzy stuff.

The Cohen track is the clincher though: eerie and unnerving as only Laughing Len can be.

This subsequently, and surprsingly, won the Grammy for best album of 2007 in February 2008.

Share It

Your Comments

GoodSItes - Mar 15, 2009

e the http:// bit)

Are you Human? (this helps us weed out robot spam comments)

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

THE BLUE NOTE LABEL AT 75 (2014): Vision, visuals and visionaries in jazz

THE BLUE NOTE LABEL AT 75 (2014): Vision, visuals and visionaries in jazz

In early January 1939 Alfred Lion – a 30-year old emigre from Berlin who had moved permanently to New York just two years previous – took the boogie-woogie pianists Meade Lux Lewis... > Read more

Tord Gustavsen Ensemble: Restored, Returned (ECM/Ode)

Tord Gustavsen Ensemble: Restored, Returned (ECM/Ode)

The previous album by young ECM pianist Gustavsen at Elsewhere was his trio album Being There which was named a Best of Elsewhere 2007 album. Echoes of that group's delicate beauty and vibrant... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: The La De Da's

THE BARGAIN BUY: The La De Da's

New Zealand may not have much of a lineage of purely politcal rock music, but there has always been a strong thread of social dissent. Punks certainly didn't invent songs about boring people living... > Read more

Grimes, California: Tales of the riverbank

Grimes, California: Tales of the riverbank

The fact was, when you walked from the cool, fresh air of the Sacramento River into the restaurant at the RV park you could barely breath for the smell of cooking oil. It coated the tongue and... > Read more