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River-The Joni Letters

4.1 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Sept. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Japan
  • ASIN: B000TLYECK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,530,425 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Mar. 2009
Format: Audio CD
The line is drawn and this album has divided fans on both sides.

Hancock fans appalled; Mitchell fans outraged; the occasional satisfied inbetweenie.

Inevitable I guess. Not always a good idea to mess with mythology.

Someone always gets upset.

Ian Shaw took Ms Mitchell on in his 2006 release 'Drawn To All Things:
The Songs Of Joni Mitchell' and a very fine job he did too.

2007's 'A Tribute To Joni Mitchell' threw a motley ragbag of performers
into the fray with uneven results. Bjork, Prince and Annie Lennox to name
but three. Big risk. Good intentions. More travesty than tribute.

So to Mr Hancock's 2007 dance with The Diva - 'River : The Joni Letters'.
Herbie fans think it too soft, too pappy.
Joni's hardcore warrior army won't entertain anyone messing with the maid.

I'm a big admirer of both performers and I like it. In fact I really love it.

Hancock (piano), Shorter (saxes), Holland (bass), Colaiuta (drums), Loueke (guitar).
Now that's a pretty stellar line-up for starters. Mr Shorter, of course, having blessed
many of Ms Mitchell's finest compositions with his celestial breath.
The band plays like a dream. Co-production with Larry Klein is impeccable.

The individual vocal contributions are, truth be told, somewhat variable in quality.
I've always thought Norah Jones a little bland but she does her level best with opening
track 'Court and Spark' and does it no real harm.
Mr Hancock's reverential piano is here and throughout ethereally beautiful.

Tina Turner is a somewhat surreal choice but her take on 'Edith and The Kingpin'
is remarkably insightful and does not deserve the pasting given here by some listeners.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As a Joni fan since I first heard Blue as a 15 year old (35 years ago), I've been enjoing a bit of a Joni-fest recently, what with Shine, the Tribute album, (the very very long-awaited and overdue remastered Court and Spark/ Hissing of Summer Lawns and Hejira trio still to come) and now this.

The playing is superb. Some of Herbie's best piano work, the incomparable Wayne Shorter, Vinnie Colaiuta doing his best supportive playing (and making a return to performing Joni's material) plus the musical bass of Dave Holland combine to create a truly atmospheric, sublime and interesting collection.

There is a bit of a problem though. Some of the vocalists chosen to contribute are, to say the least, a little suprising. Norah Jones does her best "Norah Jones", but adds little to what is one of Joni's best songs. Tina Turner's voice just rattles, and whenever I hear it just I can't get "Steamy Windows" out of my mind. Corrine Bailey Rae's take on River is simply odd - not because of her accent (I'm sure not many American listeners will notice the London style instead of her Leeds accent - and so what, because either accent would not have improved on her performance) but because her voice simply doesn't suit the arrangement. Despite all the fuss (and I did quite like her debut) she gives a weak vocal and seems oddly unable to evoke any real emotion from it.

Luciana Souza's vocal is a bit too pitchy (I know it's "jazz", but it's just not close enough......) and makes me feel uneasy when I listen to it.
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Format: Audio CD
When the magnificent Ian Shaw collection of Joni Mitchell songs "Drawn to all things" appeared a couple of years ago, I thought the definitive set of Joni covers was now in place and that there was nothing more to say on the subject. However, it is a tribute to the quality of the writing that this cd works so well - that, and the fact that you have a top drawer set of musicians playing, with great taste and discretion, music they clearly adore.

Whoever came up with the idea of Tina Turner singing "Edith and the Kingpin" deserves a big medal; it works perfectly. Tina Turner brings a world-weariness to this terrific song and its as if we're looking at the scene through a different woman's eyes.

An excellent collection, go on, treat yourself!
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I am not a true fan of either of these artistes but thought this sounded interesting enough to warrant the purchase – especially as it was voted ‘album of the year.’
This to me is ‘cocktail lounge’ music. It’s very professionally done of course and easy on the ear for sure. However, to a neutral like me, it’s also rather unexceptional and unexciting. It did little for me in truth, though I accept that real jazz buffs would take more from it. I’m probably not going to play this again in any hurry! The songs are overly long in the main and Leonard Cohen‘s oration of ‘Jungle Line’ bored me rigid.
Sorry but that’s how the whole thing grabbed me.
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Format: Audio CD
Of course, music is all about personal taste but in the interest of balance I thought I'd contribute my thoughts on this album... Let me start by saying that I'm a Herbie hancock fan, particularly the early work on Blue Note (Maiden Voyage, Takin' Off etc.) but I've felt that in recent years he may have run out of ideas. I'm a huge Joni fan too, so decided this might be worth investigating.
How wrong I was...The only vocal of interest on this album is saved 'til last with Leonard Cohen's take on 'The Jungle Line' - I didn't particularly like it, but at least it was interesting. Norah Jones contributed little to a once great song (Court & Spark) but that was nothing compared to Tina Turner's take on 'Edith & The Kingpin' and the worst was yet to come. Quite why Corrine Bailey Rae adopted a 'mockney' accent for her performance of 'River' is beyond me, being as she's from Leeds!
The instrumental tracks fare slightly better but are at best, pleasant!
For a much more interesting album of Joni Mitchell interpretations, I'd recommend 'A Tribute To Joni Mitchell' by Various Artists (ASIN: B000NJXCG2) or try Joni's excellent new album 'Shine'.
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