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

TROMBONE SHORTY INTERVIEWED (2011): Born to blow

TROMBONE SHORTY INTERVIEWED (2011): Born to blow

Troy Andrews – better known as Trombone Shorty – is one of the rising stars of the New Orleans jazz scene. But he had a head start, he was playing trombone in local brass bands when... > Read more

ATLANTIC JAZZ LEGENDS IN A BOX (2014): Cheap steps into giant jazz

ATLANTIC JAZZ LEGENDS IN A BOX (2014): Cheap steps into giant jazz

In a recent informal conversation with an American singer, the topic turned to the old debate: vinyl, CDs or mp3s? She said, of course she preferred vinyl . . . but I sensed a hesitation in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BRIAN ENO; THE EARLY SOLO YEARS 1973-77: Alchemy in the studio

BRIAN ENO; THE EARLY SOLO YEARS 1973-77: Alchemy in the studio

Legend has it that when Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry fell out with the band's synth player (and avant-noise merchant) Brian Eno he accused him of being a "non-musician". Eno -- full... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Rachel and Hayden Donnell of Great North

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Rachel and Hayden Donnell of Great North

New Zealand band Great North impressed Elsewhere back in the day, 2009 to be precise, when we had the time to review EPs. Of their EP Soldiers we felt the angels were watching over them, and... > Read more