The exceptional vocalist: Norah Jones (born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar; March 30, 1979) is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress. She is the daughter of Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar and Sue Jones. She is also the paternal half-sister of Anoushka Shankar.
In 2002, she launched her solo music career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album Come Away with Me, a fusion of jazz, pop, and country music, which was certified diamond album in 2002, selling over 26 million copies, The record earned Jones five Grammy Awards, including the Album of the Year,Record of the Year, and Best New Artist. Her subsequent studio albums, Feels Like Home, released in 2004, Not Too Late, released in 2007, the same year she made her film debut in My Blueberry Nights, and her 2009 release The Fall all gained Platinum status, selling over a million copies and were generally well received by critics. Jones' fifth studio album, Little Broken Hearts was released on April 27, 2012.
Jones has won nine Grammy Awards and was Billboard magazine's 60th-best-selling music artist of the 2000–2009 decade. Throughout her career, Jones has won numerous awards and has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. Billboard named her the top jazz artist of the 2000–2009 decade.
The outstanding keyboard man: Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer. As part of Miles Davis'sSecond Great Quintet, Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the "post-bop" sound. He was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace music synthesizers and funk music (characterized by syncopated drum beats). Hancock's music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs "cross over" and achieved success among pop audiences. His music embraces elements of funk and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz. In his jazz improvisation, he possesses a unique creative blend of jazz, blues, and modern classical music, with harmonic stylings much like the styles of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.
Hancock's best-known solo works include "Cantaloupe Island", "Watermelon Man" (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamaría), "Maiden Voyage", "Chameleon", and the singles "I Thought It Was You" and "Rockit". His 2007 tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to win the award after Getz/Gilberto in 1965.
On July 22, 2011 at a ceremony in Paris, Hancock was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of Intercultural Dialogue.
The brilliant songwriter/poet: Joni Mitchell, CC (born Roberta Joan Anderson; November 7, 1943) is a Canadianmusician, singer songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs inSaskatchewan and Western Canada and then busking in the streets and dives of Toronto. In 1965 she moved to the United States and, touring constantly, began to be recognized when her original songs ("Urge for Going," "Chelsea Morning," "Both Sides, Now," "The Circle Game") were covered by notable folk singers, allowing her to sign with Reprise Records and record her own debut album in 1968. Settling in Southern California, Mitchell and her popular songs like "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Woodstock" helped define an era and a generation. Her more starkly personal 1971 recording Blue has been called one of the best albums ever made. Musically restless, Mitchell switched labels and began moving toward jazz rhythms by way of lush pop textures on 1974's Court and Spark, her best-selling LP, featuring her radio hits "Help Me" and "Free Man in Paris."
Mitchell's wide-ranging vocals and her distinctive open-tuned guitar and piano compositions grew more harmonically and rhythmically complex as she explored jazz, melding it with her influences in rock n roll, R&B, classical music and non-western beats. Mitchell'sexperimental run of jazz-inspired albums, including 1975's The Hissing of Summer Lawnsand 1976's Hejira, confused many and hurt Mitchell's sales at the time, but they are acclaimed today. In the late 1970s, she began working closely with noted jazz musicians, among them Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Charles Mingus, the last of whom asked her to collaborate on his final recordings. In her later work Mitchell turned again toward pop, embraced electronic music, and engaged in political protest. Mitchell was also the sole record producer credited on most of her albums, including all her work in the 1970s. With roots in visual art, she designed her own album artwork throughout her career. A blunt critic of the music industry, Mitchell quit touring and released her 17th, and reportedly last, album of original songs in 2007. Now based in British Columbia, she describes herself as a "painter derailed by circumstance."
Mitchell has deeply influenced fellow musicians in a diverse range of genres, and her work is highly respected by critics. Allmusic said, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century," and Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever." Mitchell's lyrics have been noted for their developed poetics, addressing social and environmental ideals alongside individual feelings of romantic longing, confusion, disillusion and joy.
My take: Even Joni Mitchell--at least her alter-ego--has been seduced by $$$ & that false City of Refuge, more accurately a Wilderness of Damaged & Twisted Souls & soulless reprobates scurrying in the dark trying to make it back over the line. (But sometimes too far gone to care.) But that's not always possible once you've lost your spark of humanity. Sometimes its such a seemingly insignificant thing that gets you in the end. A breeze too cool. A cough too close. A small dream too skewed (closer to nightmare) not to hold one's interest upon waking of the possibilities.
How do I balance "the larger psychology" (some call it "the spiritual") with the demands of a material milieu (some refer to as "the real world")? That is indeed one of the seminal questions: How do I remain a human being doing my best to stay awake, maintain reverence for life (including my own)?
Love is what virtually all sentient beings crave. Yet in its truest form it is rarer than precious stones & metals. We think it weakens us to admit our isolation & loneliness (our lives of "quiet desperation") but recognizing our human condition & running with it & trying to repair it & build with it & survive & even thrive in the midst of absurdities & follies & illness & war & death & a paucity of authentic feeling, that's the challenge. The rock of Sisyphus; his torment & his reason to be & continue.
And there's nothing like the manic high of Crazy July to gather one in. Let the show begin. With a laugh too loud. With eyes too wide. Try not frightening the dead. Your over-enthusiasm can bring them back to life. They just have to be gently convinced of that. Music & poetry & art of all kinds is a way. Love--in all its forms-- is another. Do it! Or be damned...
Court & Spark
Love came to my door
With a sleeping roll
And a madman's soul
He thought for sure I'd seen him
Dancing up a river in the dark
Looking for a woman
To court and spark
He was playing on the sidewalk
For passing change
When something strange happened
Glory train passed through him
So he buried the coins he made
In People's Park
And went looking for a woman
To court and spark
It seemed like he read my mind
He saw me mistrusting him
And still acting kind
He saw how I worried sometimes
How I worried sometimes
"All the guilty people," he said
"They've all seen the stain
On their daily bread
On their Christian names
I cleared myself
I sacrificed my blues
And you could complete me
I'd complete you"
His eyes were the color of the sand
And the sea
And the more he talked to me
The more he reached me
But I couldn't let go of L.A.
City of the fallen angels
--song written by Joni Mitchell