Nov 7, 2018
Today is the 75th birthday anniversary of Joni Mitchell, one of my musical idols. I’ve done several podcasts of jazz versions of Joni’s music in the past, most notably on her 70th birthday (see Podcasts 389, 390, 391). Well, here’s one more.
What is it about her music that lends itself to jazz interpretation? Perhaps it’s her unusual (open) tunings and use of chords that attract jazz musicians. One author found that she has used at leasts 60 different tunings across her career, 80 if you count the use of a capo on her guitar. As for her choice of chords, another wrote:
Though many (but by no means all) of Joni’s songs are defined by a single key, few use the traditional major or minor modes in their pure state. She is much more likely to use Aeolian, Dorian or Mixolydian modal bases, with their special quality due to the lowered seventh scale-degree, and their different arrangement of harmonies around the tonal centre.
Of course she writes great melodies as well, and her lyrics allow for a range of interpretation from singers. In short, she is one of the handful of popular music composers of the rock era – along with Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder, and perhaps Bob Dylan and Randy Newman – whose work will be imagined and reimagined by jazz artists for some time to come.
Music selections for Podcast 646 include:
John Handy – “The Hissing of Summer Lawns”
Sophie Milman – “Be Cool”
Lisa Hilton – “Both Sides, Now” (alternate take)
Laurie Antonioli – “A Woman of Heart and Mind”
DeJohnette, Grenadier, Medeski & Scofield as 'Hudson' -
“Woodstock” (live October 14, 2017)
Tierney Sutton – “Little Green”
Herbie Hancock – “Sweet Bird”
Debra Mann – “Urge for Going”
Lucia Souza – “Down to You”