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

CHARLES MINGUS: Genius captured in the late Fifties

CHARLES MINGUS: Genius captured in the late Fifties

Charles Mingus was one of jazz's greatest geniuses and remains among the most misunderstood. Irascible and demanding, his personality and roguish reputation often tower larger than his inspired... > Read more

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

Although you could hardly argue with a line-up which had tenor player Johnny Griffin, pianist Al Haig, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones alongside trumpeter Chet Baker, the result... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Rome, Italy: When in Rome

Rome, Italy: When in Rome

I don't know his name, never did, and it isn't important anyway. Let's call him Big Marco because that's who he looked like. I arrived at Big Marco's small hotel in Rome early one morning having... > Read more

Kamel El Harrachi: Ghana Fenou (Mosaic/Ode)

Kamel El Harrachi: Ghana Fenou (Mosaic/Ode)

By coincidence Elsewhere here acknowledges the son of another music master in the same week as we pick up the album by Jakob Dylan. Kamel El Harrachi is the Paris-based son of the late oud... > Read more