It’s Joni Mitchell’s birthday. For many singers of a certain age, she is the mother of us all, and many of us have a case of Joni. Her songs to aging children [still] come, you know? Joni goes way back as a jazz explorer, but the love goes both ways, and there’s been a river of jazz explorations of her songbook. Yes, there was that multiple-Grammy-winning Herbie Hancock project, River: the Joni Letters, in 2007. But jazzers’ interest in the JM songbook started well before that, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Which got me to thinking it’d be cool if somebody compiled a list of jazz singers who’ve covered Joni Mitchell. Thank you, Joni, for giving us so much greatness to work with, and showing us the way. Happy birthday!
Some notes before we get started:
• This list includes only performances released on CD. There’ve been notable concerts (Laurie Antonioli, whose Joni CD is in the works, Claire Martin and Ian Shaw), but this list is for released recordings only.
• There are many instrumental takes on Joni, but this list comprises only vocals by jazz singers
• All-Joni-albums come first, individual songs second (with one exception: Cassandra Wislon).
• Links on song titles lead to the recordings themselves. Links on album titles lead to artist website, album reviews, stores, videos, or whatever I could find that seemed relevant. For some reason some of the links aren’t highlighted, but hover over the titles; most are live linked whether it looks like it or not.
• The list does not include the oft-recorded “Twisted” because it wasn’t written by JM.
• Yes, I’m included in the list.
• If you want to see a far more comprehensive list of Joni covers in all genres, you must go to Joni Undercover, lovingly and exhaustively maintained by Bob Muller.
MOST IMPORTANT NOTE OF ALL: All I want is to get the conversation started; I’m sure I’ve missed a lot that should be included (and I’m sure many of them are in my iPod, on my CD shelves, or simply stuck in my brain’s overloaded cache browser). It all comes down to you, dear reader, so please help me fill out the list by adding a comment (feel free to include links).
Leora Cashe and the Ross Taggart Trio: Another Side Now (Birth Records, 2008)
Ian Shaw: Drawn to All Things: Songs of Joni Mitchell (Linn Records, 2006)
Tierney Sutton: After Blue (BFM, 2013)
[Note: this album contains two tracks not written by JM]
Lydia Van Dam Group: Both Sides Now, A Tribute to Joni Mitchell (VIA Jazz)
Multiple Artists A Tribute to Joni Mitchell (Nonesuch, 2007)
Cassandra Wilson For The Roses
Blue Motel Room (In Blue, Concord, 2002)
All I Want (Wild For You, Concord, 2004)
Help Me (Wild For You, Concord, 2004)
Night in the City (Silva • Bell • Elation, Laser Records, 2014)
Both Sides Now (Songs of Our Time, King, 2008)
Be Cool (Fay Claassen Sing! WDR Big Band Cologne, Challenge, 2010)
Be Cool (What Lies Within, Savant, 2008)
Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire (Eclipse, MaximumJazz, 2004)
For the Roses (Eclipse, MaximumJazz, 2004)
Chelsea Morning (The Great City, 2014)
The Circle Game (Yours, Native Language, 2005)
Carey (Return to You, Native Language Music, 2007)
Song to a Seagull (One For My Baby, Heart Music, 1995)
Big Yellow Taxi (So Good, So Right: Nicole Henry Live, Banister Records, 2013)
Woodstock (Everything I Love, 2006)
Both Sides Now (Everything I Love, 2006)
River (I’m Gonna Lock My Heart, Pausa Records, 1986)
A Case of You (Live in Paris, Verve, 2002)
Black Crow (The Girl in the Other Room, Verve, 2004)
Be Cool (The Waiting Game, Linn, 1996)
Blue Motel Room (with Ian Shaw) (Too Darn Hot, Linn, 2004)
Chelsea Morning (Mercy Streets, Palmetto, 2005)
The Priest (If Less Is More, Nothing Is Everything, Palmetto, 2008)
A Case of You (Come Dream With Me, Encoded Music, 2001)
Barangrill (Mark ll, Muse, 1974)
Both Sides Now (This Must Be Earth, Phoenix, 1969)
River (Bridges, Blue Note, 1999)
Both Sides Now (Quiet After the Storm, Blue Note, 1995)
A Case of You (In My Prime, RhiannonMusic, 2005)
Abigail Riccards & Tony Romano
Both Sides Now (Soft Rains Fall, 20ll)
California (Shed a Little Light, Patois Records, 2013)
River (Short Stories, Atlantic, 1990)
Black Crow (Reverie, Rhythome, 2005)
A Chair in the Sky (Yell of the Gazelle, Babel, 1996)
Be Cool (The Delirium Blues Project: Serve or Suffer, Half Note, 2008)
Black Crow (Blue Light Til’ Dawn, Blue Note, 1993)
Song to a Seagull (Parallel Lives, Jazzed Media, 2011)
Be Cool (Parallel Lives, Jazzed Media, 2011)