Herbie Hancock: Amelia

This song first appeared on Joni Mitchell's highly influential album Hejira and featured the distinctive altered guitar work of the singer-guitarist along with bass legend Jaco Pastorius. Here Herbie Hancock displays his wonderful arranging skills, which are second only to his compositional talents. Wayne Shorter steals the show, though, with beautifully phrased soprano saxophone lines that accentuate vocalist Luciana Souza's tenderness and vulnerability. Souza, the Brazilian-born Manhattan School of Music educator, shines on this track, providing shades of Joni Mitchell with little effort, sounding completely organic and natural. This track marvelously encapsulates the explorative mood of River: The Joni Letters.

March 15, 2009 · 0 comments

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Herbie Hancock: The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms)

This song originally appeared on Joni Mitchell's 1988 album Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, during a time when she had moved towards a more electric, pop sound. Here the song receives the jazz treatment on Herbie Hancock's 2007 tribute album, which won the Grammy Album of the Year award. Mitchell makes an appearance to aid in the reworking of her sultry number, which has a very laid-back vibe. The band is in wonderful form, with Wayne Shorter echoing Mitchell's vocal nuances on soprano sax. Mitchell shows why she was a jazz singer beginning in the 1970s, as her raspy, smoke-cured voice fits this rearrangement like hand in glove.

March 15, 2009 · 0 comments

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Herbie Hancock: Edith and the Kingpin

Herbie Hancock, arguably the most successful crossover musician in jazz history, assembled an all-star cast for his 2007 album River: The Joni Letters. This song originally appeared on Joni Mitchell's 1975 album The Hissing of Summer Lawns. Tina Turner does a splendid job reinterpreting this cover with an extended use of vibrato. She almost sounds better than Joni on the original, but I won't be completely blasphemous. Lionel Loueke provides nice wah-wah textures beneath the vocals, while Hancock plays an extremely tasteful solo. Wayne Shorter brings the track together with his beautiful saxophone solo, adding the necessary ingredients to make this a must-have for fans of the artists involved.

March 15, 2009 · 0 comments

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