|1. Introduction - Joni Mitchell|
|2. In France They Kiss On Main Street - Joni Mitchell|
|3. Edith And The Kingpin - Joni Mitchell|
|4. Coyote - Joni Mitchell|
|5. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat - Joni Mitchell|
|6. The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines - Joni Mitchell|
|7. Amelia - Joni Mitchell|
|8. Pat's Solo - Joni Mitchell|
|9. Hejira - Joni Mitchell|
|11. Band Introduction|
|12. Furry Sings The Blues|
|13. Why Do Fools Fall In Love|
|14. Shadows And Light|
|15. God Must Be A Boogie Man|
The selections vary between Joni's impassioned, quietly intense, deeply personal folk-based material ("Amelia", "Furry Sings the Blues", "Edith and the Kingpin"), and the rollicking exuberance of the band's full-tilt jazz explorations of "In France They Kiss On Main Street" and "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines". On lead guitar we have virtuoso Pat Metheny (whose talents are somewhat underutilized on this set, sad to say), with his longtime compadre Lyle Mays playing keys, but Jaco Pastorius' bass-playing is super-phenomenal throughout; you really get a strong feel of how he's revolutionized the instrument, and Michael Brecker gives what must have been the performance of his career, especially on "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" and the impassioned cover of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat".
This is not your father's (or your mother's) Joni Mitchell album. The power of the performances makes this a must-have recording for Mitchell's fans, even though they already have studio versions of all of these songs. For folk fans, Mitchell's haunting voice and introspective lyrics (albeit less distinctly personal than previously) still deserve attention. Progressive jazz fans will probably yearn for more Metheny, but Pastorius' bass works so effectively with this material that you can't fault the arrangements. Moreover, there's probably never been another album that so successfully merges progressive jazz with pop sensibility. Even more highly recommended is the vinyl version, which contains recordings of "Black Crow" and "Free Man in Paris" that are so incredible that it boggles the mind that they were cut from the CD.
"Shadows & Light" is a collage of Mitchell's various musical expressions throughout the years: rock, folk and pop ballads blended with her own unique and often quite eccentric style of jazz. The album kicks off brightly with "In France They Kiss on Main Street" with Mitchell packing in the words to this rapidly traveling and lyrically nostalgic pop tune. The crowd is enthusiastic from this very first song, which adds to the excitement and electricity of a very memorable evening at L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl.
From there it is a fascinating journey through the most recent Joni Mitchell works preceding this release...from "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" she performs the mysterious "Edith and the Kingpin" and the beautifully acappella title song with background vocals courtesy of The Persuasions. Mitchell's selections from her then recent collaboration with the late Charles Mingus are the focus of her most hard-core jazz performances including "Goodbye Porkpie Hat", "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" and the finger-popping "God Must Be a Boogie Man" which feature the late Jaco Pastorius on bass and Michael Brecker on saxophone.
Most lyrical and haunting though are her beautiful and often ethereal selections from her album "Hejira" including the rolling and humor-laden "Coyote", the melancholy "Furry Sings the Blues" and most notably the absolutely monumental "Amelia"...a confessional tale full of loss and wanderlust with its focus on the life, dreams and death of Amelia Earhart. "Amelia" concludes with a visionary Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays duet, which is a fine early example of the incredibly melodic and prolific work these two composers and instrumentalists produced together in subsequent years (such as on the album "Pat Metheny Group: First Circle").
There are a few old favorites covered on "Shadows & Light": a lively rendition of the old rock and roll classic "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?", and performances of two older Joni Mitchell classics "Free Man in Paris" and the legendary "Woodstock."
While the concert DVD of "Shadows & Light" now appears somewhat dated, the CD of this concert is every bit as entertaining and emotionally charged as it ever was upon its initial release. Truly a unique live classic.