Friday, July 9, 2010

Joni Covers: Jazz vocalists

Image from Inga Scholes

Herbie Hancock, ft. Luciana Souza: Amelia

Dianne Reeves: River

Cassandra Wilson: For The Roses

Call this entry Jazz Does Joni, Part Two; The Vocalists.

On my last post I focused on tunes that ripped away the awesome lyrics of Joni's songs. For this go-round, I'm re-introducing them as interpreted by three terrific female jazz vocalists. Can I just say it was hard to pick only three? With Joni, we're spoiled for choice.

I waxed poetic about Herbie Hancock's "River" in my last post, and you lot all went out and bought it, didn't you? Well, you should have, IMHO. Because it was really hard to pick just one of the many tunes on that CD to feature today: do I go with Tina Turner or Norah Jones or Corinne Bailey Rae? Or even Joni herself? In the end, I went with my personal favorite: the Brazilian jazz artist Luciana Souza. There just isn't a better fit than this song and her slow, sultry alto. And listen up, there's Wayne Shorter's soprano sax again. Like Icarus ascending on beautiful foolish arms…

The next one's by a local gal (well, to me), Dianne Reeves, who hails from Boulder, Colorado. This song pops up on people's Christmas playlists, but to me it never seemed all that…restrictive, I guess. Meaning, it's not at all weird that I'm posting it on what for most of us is the hottest day so far all summer. So instead of noticing how it's so hot that your underwear is clinging to you like lichen, think of this frozen river, and ice skating, and how much we're all gonna be whining about how cold it is in a short 6 months.

Just now I noticed that all three of my choices are women who sing in the lower ranges of the female voice. Maybe that's because I myself sing in that range, so I can wail away to these songs in the privacy of my SUV, like you do. I mean, you all do that too, right? You're the people I see in my rear view mirror, mouthing words you alone can hear? Thought so. Wave at me next time, 'k? It'll be our secret. Me, I'll be singing to this one, by the supremely talented Cassandra Wilson. I've had this line running through my head all week: It was just the arbutus rusting, and the bumping of the logs, and the moon swept down black water like an empty spotlight… This is from a wonderful 2007 CD, "Tribute to Joni Mitchell", that also features other great artists like Prince, Sufjan Stevens, k.d. lang, Sarah McLachlan, and Emmylou Harris.

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