Herbie Hancock - album review (3 stars)

Herbie Hancock

River – The Joni Letters (Verve)

Herbie Hancock is by no means the first jazz artist to devote his attention to a disc of music by Joni Mitchell, and the singer herself has often turned to both jazz musicians and idioms in her work. Hancock’s reputation and some big-name guests will ensure this gets plenty of attention, but the results are something of a mixed bag.

The disc contains four instrumental tracks (including a sumptuous re-working of ‘Both Sides Now’ alongside two not written by the singer, Duke Ellington’s ‘Solitude’ and Wayne Shorter’s ‘Nefertiti’) and six songs. Joni Mitchell delivers the authentic goods on ‘Tea Leaf Property’, but the revelation is Tina Turner’s interpretation of ‘Edith and the Kingpin’. Norah Jones and Corinne Bailey Rae are lightweight on ‘Court and Spark’ and ‘River’ respectively, and while Leonard Cohen’s spoken version of ‘The Jungle Line’ lacks nothing in gravitas, it doesn’t work for me. (Kenny Mathieson)

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