Jazzy and Mild with Zap
One of the most beautiful sights I've seen this new year has not been the sunrise over Columbia Point, but the long-awaited appearance of one of the last of our true "folk" singers, Joni Mitchell.
In the past, Joni has been known for giving talented new artists a break, either lending them her songs, "Urge for Going" and "The Circle Game" did so much for Tom Rush, or by having them tour with her, for instance, James Taylor performed with her in his early days, and later during his "Mudslide Slim" period. Last year of so, Joni gave the brilliant Jackson Browne some exposure on her concert tour.
This year saw her with Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, a full-fledged back-up group. The L.A. Express, led by Joni's longtime reed man Mr. Tom Scott, played a tasteful mix of soulful jazz ranging from Junior Walker and the All Stars honking saxes to dream-like John Coltrane compositions.
Tom Scott introduced the members of his group as Bostonian Rodger Loude, alleged composer of the "All in the Family" theme, on electric piano; Mr. Rob Ford, late of Jimmy Witherspoon, on guitar; Max Bennett, formerly with Frank Zappa, on bass; John Guerin, recently from Roger McGuinn, on drums; and Tom Scott, himself, on flutes and saxes.
Joni Mitchell was introduced next, opening with a song from her Blue album entitled "This Flight Tonight." Attired in a sleek silver pantsuit and accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang her big hit of last year, "You turn me on (I'm a radio)."
Going to the piano, she played a tune from her new album, "Court and Spark," called "Same Situation." On guitar again, backed by the band, she did another new number, "Just Like This Train," a jazzy, up-tempo version of Woodstock, gently swaying and dancing to the music.
After a short intermission, she returned to the stage alone, performing two older songs, "Busy Being Free" and "Big Yellow Taxi." Telling a short story about mixing plastic people in an apartment with transparent furniture, Joni went into another new tune called "People's Parties."
Sitting down on a velvet-draped chair, she performed two numbers "All I Want" and "A Case of You," again from her Blue album. Joni accompanied herself on an Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer. The dulcimer is an instrument that possesses a beautiful visual quality; it looks like an elongated violin; held flat and is strummed with a wooden dowel and a feather.
At the ending of her dulcimer session, someone in the audience presented Joni with a single red rose. From her "For the Roses" album, she sang the title tune plus her frightening heroin tale called "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire." Returning to the piano under a mellow blue light, the lady sang the title song from her album "Blue" together with "For Free" from "Ladies of the Canyon."
Tom Scott and the L.A. Express regrouped to help out Joni on three new numbers, "Trouble Child," "Help Me," and "Car on a Hill," followed by a moving version of perhaps her most famous song, thanks to Judy Collins, called "Clouds (Both Sides Now)."
With the red lights on, it was Joni and The Jets as the band burst into her latest single, the rollicking "Raised on Robbery." Joni should have played electric on this number, but she fit in with the band perfectly. She then left the stage to a standing ovation and the usual damned matches were struck, threatening to burn down the hall if she didn't return.
Return she did, complete with band, to perform her rock and roll lover's lament, "Blonde in The Bleachers," from her last album. Singing and dancing up front of the band, they did the comical scat-singing tune entitled "Twisted" from the new album. A truly memorable evening provided by a most pretty, and graceful lady, Miss Joni Mitchell.
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