ShadowsLightJoni Mitchell: Shadows And Light

The Songs:

  1. Introduction (Shadows And Light)
  2. In France They Kiss On Main Street
  3. Edith And The Kingpin
  4. Coyote
  5. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
  6. Jaco’s Solo [DVD only]
  7. The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines
  8. Amelia
  9. Pat’s Solo
  10. Hejira
  11. Black Crow
  12. Don’s Solo [CD only]
  13. Dreamland [CD only]
  14. Free Man In Paris
  15. Band Introduction
  16. Furry Sings The Blues
  17. Raised On Robbery [DVD only]
  18. Why Do Fools Fall In Love?
  19. Shadows And Light
  20. God Must Be A Boogie Man [CD only]
  21. Woodstock [CD only]

Personnel:

  • Joni Mitchell – vocals, electric guitar
  • Lyle Mays – keyboards
  • Pat Metheny – electric guitar
  • Jaco Pastorius – bass
  • Don Alias – drums & percussion
  • Michael Brecker – soprano & tenor saxophones
  • The Persuasions – backing vocals (on “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” and “Shadows And Light”)

In 1978-79, Joni Mitchell recorded Mingus, the last of 3 studio albums she made with bassist Jaco PastoriusMingus was a collaborative effort between Mitchell and famed jazz bassist and composer, Charles Mingus, who was in the final stages of a terminal illness. The album featured Herbie Hancock and several of Pastorius’ band mates from Weather Report. A tour in support of the album was planned with Weather Report set to open and serve as her touring band, but their leader, Joe Zawinul, decided against it and would not allow saxophonist Wayne Shorter or drummer Peter Erskine to participate. As a result, Jaco, (who was serving as her musical director), recruited some of his friends from other projects to fill out the group. The resulting jazz dream group played a series of West Coast dates in the fall of 1979. A September show in Santa Barbara, California was filmed and recorded, resulting in the release of Shadows And Light.

Joni Mitchell was at her creative peak and the group interplay is astonishing. Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, and Pastorius all have lots of room to solo and add rich textures to Mitchell’s evocative lyrics. In addition to such standout cuts as “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines,” “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “God Must Be A Boogie Man” from the Mingus album, the all-star brand gives a new depth to older material, including “Hejira,” “Black Crow” and “Free Man In Paris”. The order and song selection varied from the original double album set and initial VHS film release. An early single CD version omitted several tracks that had appeared on the vinyl set. One could hope that a deluxe edition integrating all the tracks from both the audio and video versions of the album would appear at some point, along with tracks not included in either version. (The tour set list included such perennial Mitchell hits as “Big Yellow Taxi” and “The Last Time I Saw Richard”. 

Although Mitchell’s previous live album, Miles Of Aisles, also showcased her with a jazz group, (Tom Scott and the L.A. Express), the caliber of soloists on Shadows And Light push Joni Mitchell’s music to an even higher level. Sadly, with the deaths of Pastorius, Alias, and Brecker, half of the musicians from this remarkable album are gone, and Mitchell just celebrated her 70th birthday. In light of this, the album and especially the DVD, serve as a time capsule to re-experience the gifts of these amazing musicians. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Karen O’Brien. Joni Mitchell: Shadows And Light (The Definitive Biography).

Suggested Viewing:

Joni Mitchell. Shadows And Light.

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