Friday, August 12, 2011

Jazz, Joni Mitchell and the Hollywood Bowl

YOU'LL get less of the introverted poet of Blue and only a hint of the lipstick-and-beret chanteuse of Court and Spark. Instead, Wednesday night will summon the jazz phase Joni Mitchell went through in the mid-to-late '70s.

HERE is  my LA Times story on the Hollywood Bowl show, Joni's Jazz, which will include all kinds of good people -- including Herbie Hancock, who recently took some well-aimed criticism about the pedestrian nature of the Bowl's jazz offerings, Glenn Hansard, Aimee Mann, Cassandra Wilson and Wayne Shorter.

I enjoyed speaking to several of the above -- though I must admit Shorter and I got lost walking down memory lane a bit: He mused about his years in the army, during which he met Lester Young at a mid-'50s Canadian gig (Pres took him downstairs to the wine cellar to see if they could find better cognac than what they were serving at the bar) and raving about the open-mindedness of European jazz fans. ("The crowds -- they're poppin'. All the generations; 13-year-olds into really out stuff. Really feeling it.")

Michell's jazz period included the album The Hissing of Summer Lawns -- which has what we'd later call "world music" touches and which will be performed in its entirety at the Bowl -- and ends with her tribute to bassist/composer Charles Mingus, who died a few months before its release. (Though some very good people play on Mingus, its fusion vibe makes it a lost opportunity for me.)

Mitchell is of course a major figure and innovative guitarist -- Richard Thompson is fascinated with her alternate tunings and his old band Fairport Convention covered "Chelsea Morning" and "I Don't Know Where I Stand" -- who I find it easy to like and hard to love. I'm happy for the the Bowl concert -- which has a mix of the usual suspects and some imaginative choices -- to change that.


Pete Bilderback said...

You know, I really think Blue is an absolutely brilliant album and deserves all the acclaim it gets. While some of her work before that is quite good, it's a little too patchouli-scented for my tastes. Her music after Blue is often very adventurous, but it doesn't move me the way Blue does.

She has certainly become an excellent jazz singer in the later phases of her career. If you listen to her singing on Hancock's Gershwin album, it is very sensitive without being precious at all. Hope you enjoy the show.

I envy you getting to chat with Wayne Shorter.

Scott Timberg said...

Tks Pete... Yes Shorter was cool... Someone should get his full story in detail before his memories start to slip away.