Laurie Antonioli goes deep with an intimate portrait of Joni Mitchell.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
An inspired recording of tremendous passion and depth that takes the Joni Mitchell road less traveled. The immediate success of Songs of Shadow, Songs of Light could be linked to the less than predictable greatest hits collection other contemporaries are quick to offer up. Antonioli's band is first rate, A-list players such as bassist John Shifflett and a cameo from the great Theo Bleckmann opening the release with "People's Parties." Ambiguous terms such as organic and eclectic would be knee jerk reactions to a release with arrangements that reinvent not just a legendary discography but introduce a new audience to some of Mitchell's deep catalog while finding that harmonic happy place between jazz and acoustic folk.
"Both Sides Now" is reharmed into an exquisite improvisational ballad. More adventurous selections include "Marcie" from Mitchell's debut recording and the obscure "Eastern Rain." Fairport Convention recorded "Eastern Rain" in 1969 while Mitchell allowed this incredible composition to seemingly fade into relative obscurity. Reinvented by Antonioli, "Eastern Rain" is the crown jewel in this dynamic collection. Laurie Antonioli has an amazing range and "This Flight Tonight" should convince those potentially on the fence that she is indeed the real deal.
Joni Mitchell's discography fits hand in glove with more the technical and artistic ability of Antonioli. Predictability is out the window as a true singer / songwriter vibe transcends genre and allows Songs of Shadow, Songs of Light to move to a new improvisational space. A stunning recording on multiple levels.
Tracks: People's Parties; Rainy Night House; Barangrill; Eastern Rain; Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire; Both Sides Now; Hissing of Summer Lawns; Woman of My Heart and Mind; This Flight Tonight; River; I Don't Know Where I Stand; California; Miracle.
Personnel: Laurie Antonioli: Vocals; Matt Clark: Piano, Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes; Dave Mac Nab: Guitar; John Shifflett: Bass; Jason Lewis: Drums; Sheldon Brown: Bass Clarinet, Clarinet, Soprano & Tenor Saxophones; Theo Bleckmann: Vocals (1)