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Lucy Pickering's Court and Spark Print-ready version

by Terry Walker
The Argus
September 4, 2017

The Brunswick, Hove, August 30

Billed as "reinterpretations of Joni Mitchell", this was a brave endeavour by a group of Brighton jazz musicians. Reinterpreting (rather than playing a straight cover) demands a high level of musicianship. Not just because of the complexity of Mitchell's songs, but because, for a listener familiar with the music, the effect is a sort of live deconstruction, with a heightened consciousness of the particularities of the music and of what the band is bringing to its reconstruction.

So, making the band's own version of the songs cohere demands both stylistic empathy and great fluidity. And, after a slightly hesitant start, with Court & Spark (the title track of Mitchell's 1974 album), that was amply demonstrated through a range of songs from the early album Blue through to the more recent Taming The Tiger and Turbulent Indigo.

Pickering tackled the vocal gymnastics of See You Sometime and Shadows & Light with great confidence. Band solos throughout were perfect miniatures woven neatly into the songs, with the band as a whole really finding its groove in Ray's Dad's Cadillac and Harlem In Havana. An enthusiastic crowd clearly thought the bravery had paid off, but Court And Spark deserve a much wider audience.


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