12 Songs, 1 Hour 19 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

This GRAMMY®-winning album isn’t simply a collection of Joni Mitchell covers by the pianist Herbie Hancock; it’s an expansive tribute album that imaginatively honors the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter from a number of different angles. River features jazz classics that you know Joni must dig; guest vocalists performing Mitchell’s songs; instrumental versions of her tunes; and an appearance by Joni herself on “Tea Leaf Prophecy.” The album is full of surprises. An instrumental version of “Both Sides Now” is a radical reimagining of the original, and a version of Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” reworks the 60s classic to great effect. The Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza strongly evokes Mitchell on “Amelia,” but she brings her own touch to the song, too. Tina Turner never sounded as jazzy as she does on “Edith and the Kingpin.” Leonard Cohen’s spoken word performance on “The Jungle Line” is gripping, but “Court and Spark,” sung by Norah Jones, might be the disc’s most intriguing track. Hancock, as restrained and inventive here as he is on the rest of the album, quietly dazzles, and Jones sounds great on this drifting, moody version. The band — Hancock, Shorter, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta — is superb. River is a wonderful homage to Mitchell and an excellent jazz album in its own right.

EDITORS’ NOTES

This GRAMMY®-winning album isn’t simply a collection of Joni Mitchell covers by the pianist Herbie Hancock; it’s an expansive tribute album that imaginatively honors the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter from a number of different angles. River features jazz classics that you know Joni must dig; guest vocalists performing Mitchell’s songs; instrumental versions of her tunes; and an appearance by Joni herself on “Tea Leaf Prophecy.” The album is full of surprises. An instrumental version of “Both Sides Now” is a radical reimagining of the original, and a version of Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” reworks the 60s classic to great effect. The Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza strongly evokes Mitchell on “Amelia,” but she brings her own touch to the song, too. Tina Turner never sounded as jazzy as she does on “Edith and the Kingpin.” Leonard Cohen’s spoken word performance on “The Jungle Line” is gripping, but “Court and Spark,” sung by Norah Jones, might be the disc’s most intriguing track. Hancock, as restrained and inventive here as he is on the rest of the album, quietly dazzles, and Jones sounds great on this drifting, moody version. The band — Hancock, Shorter, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta — is superb. River is a wonderful homage to Mitchell and an excellent jazz album in its own right.

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About Herbie Hancock

If Herbie Hancock had faded from view after his momentous mid-’60s stint with the Miles Davis Quintet and his pioneering Blue Note releases in the same period, his reputation as one of the most consequential pianists in jazz history would still have been assured. But Hancock repeatedly changed course, from the abstract electric jazz of his Mwandishi sextet to the tightly coiled jazz-funk fusion of Head Hunters to his prescient electronic experimentation with producer Bill Laswell in the ’80s. The Chicago-born Hancock achieved commercial success on his own terms, following a genuine creative path while ignoring barriers between jazz and pop (the title shared by his 2005 album and his 2014 memoir, Possibilities, said much about his worldview). He remains a “Chameleon,” true to his signature track from 1973, covering songs by his friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell and working alongside Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, and Flying Lotus in the studio.

HOMETOWN
Chicago, IL
GENRE
Jazz
BORN
12 April 1940

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