Friday, September 25, 2015

Joni Mitchell 12: Shadows And Light

Live albums can preserve a key moment in time, or serve to sum up a chapter of an artist’s career. Or sometimes it’s just a way to fulfill contractual obligations. Shadows And Light, Joni’s second double live set, puts her in front of a tight jazz combo, featuring no less than Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Michael Brecker and Don Alias—a long way from that lovelorn folksinger.
The concert was also a video production at the time, evidenced by the introduction, which melds the title track with sound bites from Rebel Without A Cause and Frankie Lymon. Then it’s right into songs from Hissing Of Summer Lawns, Hejira and Mingus, but only one from Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter. She’s clearly about the band here, letting “Pat’s Solo” bridge “Amelia” and “Hejira”, just as “Don’s Solo” connects “Black Crow” and “Dreamland”. (You’ll have to get the DVD for “Jaco’s Solo”.) A capella group The Persuasions were on the tour as well, and back her up on “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”, hinted at in the intro. The only early “hits” here are “Free Man In Paris” and the closing, moody arrangement of “Woodstock”.
The songs benefit from the unified context, and the sound is clean and full, as befits the players and their concern for tone. Shadows And Light ends up being a good entrée into Joni’s less commercial work, capping off a busy decade and setting the stage for one with less activity.

Joni Mitchell Shadows And Light (1980)—

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