This ambitious transcription was made possible by the generous help of orchestrator Mike Gibbs who located photocopies of his original 1977 score and supplied them for our starting point. He was also kind enough to proof read the finished transcription and give it his approval.
"No doubt, there are two great visionary artists at work in Paprika Plains. It is a unique collaborative musical work, unprecedented and bold, even for today's standards.
It's a song, an orchestral work and a jazz improvisation, all in the one track!
Orchestrator Michael Gibbs demonstrates not only a brilliant skill in orchestration but an immense sympathetic handling and transformation of Mitchell's sometimes challenging music. He has insightfully recognised moments in Mitchell's music so as to enhance its inherent crescendos/decrescendos, to contrast orchestral timbre plus to take advantage of opportunities to accompany/enhance or leave totally alone the solo performer. The result is a totally organic and cohesive musical work."
Echoing Michael Dunn's remarks, I would only add that this piece shows Joni Mitchell the composer allowing herself tremendous freedom to stretch beyond her comfort zone, harmonically, rhythmically and conceptually. There is perhaps a line traceable from Judgement of the Moon and Stars through Down to You to Paprika Plains, with each one showing more and more adventurous orchestral scope, but Paprika Plains stands alone in complexity and remains baffling that an untrained musician was able to realize such a vision.
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