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November 11, 2011

Celebrating Joni Through Herbie

Earlier this week Joni Mitchell celebrated her 68th birthday. And although she is not officially considered a jazz artist in the traditional sense it is no secret that she loves the music and has always incorporated a variety of aspects of it in her work…whether it be direct through an album like Mingus or through the vast array of legendary jazz musicians that have accompanied her along the way (Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, etc). She has also made a handful of guest appearances on several jazz albums as well.

One of my favorite jazz recordings celebrating Joni and her music was the 2007 album by Herbie Hancock titled River-The Joni Letters. A recording that interpreted a collection of Joni’s songs with an all-star band, led by Herbie, and special guest vocalists including Joni herself. The recording went on to win the Grammy-Award for Album of the Year. A surprise to many but not to me since I, along with my buddy & colleague Matt “Humanity” Fitz-Henry, had the wonderful opportunity to hang out and interview Herbie about the inspiration and story behind the recording prior to its release.

I cut the interview into an audio podcast series that was online shortly after the album was released. On the series, there were a few specific episodes where Herbie talked deeply about his experiences with Joni, her music and her brilliance. It seems fitting to revisit those episodes this week as we celebrate Joni’s artistry. – JV

Humanity (& Joni)

Listen to River-The Joni Letters

Joni – Part 1

Listen to River-The Joni Letters

Joni – Part 2

Listen to River-The Joni Letters

Joni Mitchell
Herbie Hancock

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