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

MORE CAPITAL iiiiDEAS  (2016): Live and direct from Aotearoa

MORE CAPITAL iiiiDEAS (2016): Live and direct from Aotearoa

Although jazz can give the impression of being a one-take music (the performer simultaneously the composer and improvising on the spot), it's often much more considered than that. Witness the... > Read more

Jon Balke: Book of Velocities (ECM/Ode)

Jon Balke: Book of Velocities (ECM/Ode)

From the school of "so spare it's barely there" comes this delightful, melodic and restful debut solo album by the Norwegian pianist Balke, here improvising through 19 short pieces (the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Barcelona, Spain: Sex and drunks and rock'n'roll

Barcelona, Spain: Sex and drunks and rock'n'roll

Warning: this article contains sexually graphic and amusing content. There was no suitable excuse to be standing outside Barcelona’s Museu de l’Erotica. It was a dreary... > Read more

COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL, a documentary by RON MANN (DV1/Southbound)

COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL, a documentary by RON MANN (DV1/Southbound)

This 90 minute doco may look dated now -- and it is rather superficial in some respects -- but it offers a useful comicshistory.001 overview of the US major players from just before the Second... > Read more