Mitchell's integration of jazz elements and use of jazz musicians began with her celebrated 1974 release Court & Spark, a GRAMMY-winning artistic and commercial triumph that was a noticeable departure from her earlier efforts, ranking at #113 in Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The session is marked by a loosened sense of structure, a cover of the Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross crossover jazz hit “Twisted” (itself a re-imagined vocal version of saxophonist Wardell Gray’s jazz instrumental), and appearances by members of the jazz/fusion bands The Crusaders and the L.A. Express. Jazz was an equally profound part of the GRAMMY-nominated 1975 album The Hissing of Summer Lawns, which contains a fresh version of trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison’s jazz standard “Centerpiece” and an appearance by saxophonist Bud Shank.
|Jaco Pastorius, Tony Williams, Joni Mitchell|
|Joni Mitchell and Charles Mingus|
Though Mitchell’s jazz influences would eventually be tempered by new approaches over the ensuing years, she has maintained a connection to jazz, continuing to work with a diverse range of jazz artists including saxophonist Wayne Shorter and trumpeters Kenny Wheeler, Wallace Roney and Chris Botti. In 2000, she issued Both Sides Now, an album of standards. Drummer Brian Blade, a longtime member of Wayne Shorter’s remarkable quartet and an acclaimed bandleader in his own right, has worked regularly with Joni Mitchell, appearing on her Taming the Tiger (1998), Travelogue (2002) and Shine (2007) recordings and tours. He will perform with his sublime Fellowship band at the 2015 SFJAZZ Gala honoring Mitchell.
|Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell|
SFJAZZ will hold its annual Gala on May 8, 2015, honoring Joni Mitchell with the SFJAZZ Lifetime Achievement Award for her artistic vision and contributions to modern music. The program will feature drummer and Joni Mitchell collaborator Brian Blade, the award-winning SFJAZZ Collective, and special guests in a tribute to the rich musical legacy of Ms. Mitchell. SFJAZZ Trustee Nion McEvoy and longtime SFJAZZ supporter Penny Coulter will co-chair the event. All proceeds from the SFJAZZ Gala 2015 will support SFJAZZ’s artistic and education programs. For information about the SFJAZZ Gala 2015 honoring Joni Mitchell, please visit http://www.sfjazz.org/jonimitchell.
— Rusty Aceves