Joni Mitchell's love of jazz has never been a secret, but this program of mostly old standards is a departure for the folk-rock icon. In characteristically creative fashion, Mitchell orders the songs so that they tell the story of a typical romantic relationship, from the first-blush sentiments of "At Last" to the anguish of "Answer Me, My Love," to the zen-like perseverance of her own classic "Both Sides Now." In so doing, she makes a statement that is truly universal, and she also makes each song uniquely her own. Her smoky, weather-worn voice is still a thing of unsurpassed beauty. Her subdued delivery and unorthodox diction recall Billie Holiday most of all.
Seventy members of the London Symphony Orchestra surround Mitchell with luxury; the arrangements are tailored with expert care by Vince Mendoza. Mitchell's ex-husband, bassist Larry Klein, is the musical director. Peter Erskine and bassist Chuck Berghofer provide the most senstive rhythmic accompaniment imaginable. And any number of session musicians could have come in to lay down perfectly acceptable (and perhaps innocuous) solos, but no: Make way for Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Mark Isham. Shorter's five guest appearances (on tenor as well as soprano) are particularly amazing: here's a player with a style as idiosyncratic and unmistakable as Joni Mitchell's. (The same could be said about the late Jaco Pastorius, another notable jazzer with whom Joni often worked.) It's fitting for a great singer/songwriter to surround herself with complementary greatness, and Both Sides Now is another fine example of that Joni Mitchell tradition.
Title: Both Sides Now
| Year Released: 2000
| Record Label: Asylum Records
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.