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jazzfan
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Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

I just picked the new Herbie Hancock CD, River: The Joni Letters

and wanted to give everyone a heads up on this really nice recording. It's not at all like Hancock's last release, Possibilities

, which was almost a pop record and didn't get much play on my system. River is much more of a "jazz" record with Hancock and his band mates (Lionel Loueke (guitar), Wayne Shorter (soprano and tenor saxophones), Dave Holland (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums)) and string of guest vocalists taking Joni Mitchell's lovely tunes and fully exploring their jazz potential.

Here are some links to a couple of very nice reviews:

All About Jazz review

All Music Guide review

This one is well worth a listen.

z038
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

Nice reviews. Thanks for posting them. I dig Herbie Hancock, and have since I was in High School in the early 70s.

Would be nice if this new album were released on vinyl.

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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

Glad to hear you liked it, it is on my shortlist.

trevort
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

Lovely!

This probably would've slid under my radar without your heads up.

Like the Both Sides Now version best, but there's much to like here. The Jungle Line is surprisingly effective, stripped down to the words.

Sent me off to enjoy the original Hejira again -- achingly beautiful, and the Elvis Costello version of Edith and the Kingpin from another J.M. tribute album earlier in the year.
The Costello version suffers from a striving overachieving effect with a very slow tempo, but the orchestration/performance is pretty cool. And the immediacy of a one take performance is preserved.
From there I listened to E.C.'s live at El Mocambo recording for more overachieving arrogance from his near-punk phase.

Thanks for the mini-odyssey!

jazzfan
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters


Quote:
Lovely!

This probably would've slid under my radar without your heads up.

Like the Both Sides Now version best, but there's much to like here. The Jungle Line is surprisingly effective, stripped down to the words.

Sent me off to enjoy the original Hejira again -- achingly beautiful, and the Elvis Costello version of Edith and the Kingpin from another J.M. tribute album earlier in the year.
The Costello version suffers from a striving overachieving effect with a very slow tempo, but the orchestration/performance is pretty cool. And the immediacy of a one take performance is preserved.
From there I listened to E.C.'s live at El Mocambo recording for more overachieving arrogance from his near-punk phase.

Thanks for the mini-odyssey!

I'm glad that you are enjoying the Hancock CD and it's a nice touch giving us an outline of one of the musical journeys that a listening session led you on.

Just two quick notes:

1) I picked up and listened to the CD before I had read either of the two reviews. After listening to and being impressed by the River I checked my two favorite music related web sites, www.allmuiscguide.com and www.allaboutjazz.com, to see what they thought about the CD and, surprise, they both loved it! (Which could be one of the reasons that I like those sites.)

2) If you like the Elvis Costello cover of "Edith and the Kingpin" may I suggest that you give a listen to My Flame Burns Blue a live recording by Elvis Costello with The Metropole Orkest. Well worth checking out.

trevort
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

It took a while, but I did revisit the "My Flame Burns Blue" album on your tip. I didn't much like it the first time I heard it - perhaps biased by a sense that Costello's restless exploring new styles was running down a bit.

It is one thing for him to write new songs in the style he's exploring, but less interesting to hear him revising his old songs.

Maybe I was just being a curmudgeon then - I enjoyed it more with lowered expectations. Good performance - his singing gets better with age!

I though to mention the "Edith and the Kingpin" song partly because this is an audiophile forum and the recording has an amazingly realistic sense of space.

rvance
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

Re: EC's voice getting better with age: A couple years ago when Cold Mountain was released, Elvis was on Craig Kilborn's now-expired late night show to promo the soundtrack. Kilborn is pretty smart-ass and smarmy (or at least playing like one on television) and his audience seemed to be mostly drunk college kids whooping it up and having laughs at EC's expense (Not, I guess, EC's demographic?). Elvis asked if he could play a song and he pulled his guitar from behind the chair and started singing The Scarlet Tide. At first the audience was laughing and tittering like nervous fools, but by the first chorus Elvis had them spellbound. His courage and authenticity was unshakeable. When he finished, there was a deep, collective exhale and then a thundering ovation. Even Kilborn was blown away.

Thirty years ago I saw EC and The Attractions at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (This Year's Model tour). Yes, he was angry then, but the strength of his convictions put all the songs into the stratosphere. Here was this little geeky guitar player with his little band (trapset, elec. keyboard and bass)- the antithesis of bombastic arena rock excess- and they pulled the rug out from under us, stood on our chests and drilled us mercilessly with his unwavering vision of the politics of relationships in the post-Vietnam ruins of our shattered culture (yes, I'm a fan). Armed Forces has long been a favorite. Thanks for the newer recommendations of his orchestral works. I will seek them out.

trevort
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

EC is quite the guy! I saw him first during his Armed Forces tour. Its been good keeping up with his career as we all age. My wife's a huge fan, so I've been well-exposed to it.

Recently, he's taken to performing a few songs without a mike in our hall (Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver). Shows he is taking vocal production as seriously as his songwriting and other talents.

Of his orchestral-related ventures, my favourite is the collaboration with Burt Bacharach
http://www.amazon.com/Painted-Memory-Elvis-Costello-Bacharach/dp/B00000AFFF

Incidentally, I listened again to The Joni Letters last night. Its pretty cool how the band deconstructs her songs in the instrumental passages.

rvance
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

ttt, Lucky your wife's a fan! Mine is not. She's a little younger, geographically and culturally deprived and listens mostly to Celtic and mainstream pop. But when Diane Krall married Elvis AND THEN HAD HIS BABY!- she had to take pause and admit there was more than met her eye about the dude. It's funny how that got her attention, but the music just isn't accessible enough for her. The album cover of My Aim Is True really sets off her geek alarm.

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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters


Quote:
But when Diane Krall married Elvis AND THEN HAD HIS BABY!- she had to take pause and admit there was more than met her eye about the dude.


Funny, I had the opposite reaction; her involvement with Elvis gives her a bit of credibility that she didn't have previously.

rvance
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

My sentiments exactly! Im afraid my better half's reaction was strictly based on the superficial aspects of age and appearance, not talent and wisdom. Luckily for me, she doesn't apply those standards at home!

Elk
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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters

Gee, at 43 she's only 10 years younger than Elvis.

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Re: Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters - I called it!!

Well Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters won album of the year at the Grammy Awards earlier this week. I told everyone about how good this recording was back in November, I hope that you were paying attention. And guess what, if you still haven't heard River: The Joni Letters, don't worry, it's still really good in spite of having own a Grammy.

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