River-The Joni Letters
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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!
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.
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'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent Sound and pleasure a pleasure do do business with you..A+1111111Published 4 months ago by V. Chauhan
heard onetrack on radio stand out track rest mediocre.1980's last time I listened to any "herbie",caught in a trap?Published 7 months ago by Peter Crowfoot
The song selection could be better but the a couple of the songs are really goodPublished 13 months ago by Angela C
This is an excellent album for jazz fans.Great interpretations of Joni Mitchell.songs.If you like your Miles Davis this is for you.Do not expect like for like tunes! Read morePublished on 13 Mar. 2014 by Mr. R. E. Bates
If you like Joni Mitchell you will probably like this and shed even sings on one track. Herbie Hancock is a genius and I love how he has curated and arranged this album.Published on 28 Nov. 2013 by Mr. W. Allbrook
always rated Joni s music in its own right. This captures the spirit whilst appearing to be originals in their own right. Read morePublished on 22 July 2013 by kathryn
A soulful vibrant tribute to an iconic songstress..a beautiful compilation and selection of songs and arrangements with additional contributors. Read morePublished on 11 April 2013 by zazeinforties