Four years after "Miles Of Aisles" Joni Mitchell released "Shadows And Light" to fulfill her contract to Asylum Records - it is however a worthy album. Concentration is on material post "Miles Of Aisles" with "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns", "Hejira", "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" and then most recent release "Mingus" featured heavily, with just a couple of dips back to older back catalogue and a new cover version. Joni's voice has by this time fully matured, and with the output featured being more jazz-tinged a stellar line up of jazz alumni including Jaco Pastorious and Pat Metheny are in support. Pastorious' rolling fretless bass is particularly apparent, bringing washes of colour to proceedings that really add something. The album however starts off with a strange studio montage which includes The Persuasions' "Juvenile Delinquent", and they feature as backing singers notably on the one new cover version "Why Do Fools Fall In Love".
Overall this is a great summary of what was probably Joni's best studio period recorded live. However, beware of which version you buy - in its original 2LP form it was 83 minutes long and some versions trim tracks to make it fit onto a single CD, which deminishes the whole. A confident performance backed by some master musicians in an atmospheric concert.
An absolute classic. I got this on vinyl when it was originally released, and have revisited it after 20 odd years, and it still sounds just as good. Joni has a huge musical range, and manages to make a great job of most of them.
This is imho one of the greatest concert recordings of all time - and I have a large number of legendary classical, jazz, country and rock live albums to compare it to.
These songs come from different phases of Joni's brilliant 1970's career, encompassing folk, rock, soul and jazz, but on this performance they are all given a jazz-rock fusion makeover by a stellar line-up of Weather Report alumni and associates including the late but legendary Jaco Pastorius (bass), Pat Metheny (guitar), Michael Brecker (saxophone), Lyle Mays (keys), Don Alias (percussion) and the Persuasions (backing vocals).
I would even say that for some of Joni's most important songs (including Amelia and Hejira) these have become the definitive versions in preference to the original studio recordings.
Finally, if you bought the first (single disc) CD release, you can confidently throw it away and buy this re-mastered 2CD version, which boasts dramatically improved sound quality and restores the omitted tracks from the original vinyl release (mostly importantly Black Crow & Free Man In Paris).
Truly excellent album, bought this after really enjoying the DVD.
Recorded during Joni's 'Jazz phase', if you like Court and Spark, Hejira, The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, Mingus you'll enjoy this album.
High points: 'Amelia' is really haunting live - just Joni and her guitar with some textural playing by Pat Metheny. It is suitably followed by Pat's atmospheric solo. Jaco's excellent bass lines in 'France they kiss on main st' play a greater part in the piece live than on the studio recording. Joni's unaccompanied vocals in 'Dry cleaner from Des Moines' are an excellent demonstration of her huge skill as both a lyricist (music by Charles Mingus) and a singer.
My only reservation - the backing vocals (only present on the intro and a couple of other tracks) are a bit invasive for my liking.
An excellent album, Joni at her best - backed by some of the greatest musicians in history.
I had to buy a new copy as my CD player swallowed the original, single disc version. The newer, two disc version sounds better to me and has the all the tracks i knew from my even earlier vinyl version. If you like Joni in her jazz mode, this is generally very good and, in the case of "Amelia", sublime.
An album that brings together some of the truly great musicians of the 20th century to create magic that takes them to another level. The way Metheny and Pastorius interweave with Joni's haunting vocal will never be surpassed. The genius of Jaco was always best when given a context, a counterpoint, and it will never be better than this.