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
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.