Joni Mitchell's 1970s and '80s forays into jazzier territory may have distressed her folkie faithful, but they also resulted in some uncompromising, challenging, and, yes, entertaining music. Witness this 73-minute documen... more »t from her '79 tour, which finds her backed by her greatest band ever, including guitarist Pat Metheny and the extraordinary bassist Jaco Pastorius, as well as Metheny cohort Lyle Mays (keyboards), Michael Brecker (sax), and Don Alias (drums). Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns-Hejira-Mingus period is heavily favored; there are two tunes from Court and Spark, but nothing earlier. It's not perfect--the film clips edited into the live tracks (at Mitchell's direction) are an annoying distraction (Rebel Without a Cause? Huh?). But by the time Mitchell, Mays, and vocal group the Persuasions finish a spine-tingling version of the title song, you'll have witnessed something special--and historic, as this was the only time this stellar crew toured together. --Sam Graham« less
"Shadows and Light was already one of my favorite albums the day I walked into a stereo store and saw the laserdisk version playing on a big screen TV. I was in awe for the next hour or so, being a huge Weather Report, Pat Metheny and Joni Mitchell fan. I agree--release this on DVD! It's quite a thrill see Jaco here at his best--his madman solo, his deep groove and his majestic tone. Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays' unique sound creates a rich harmonic blend with Joni's songs which is nothing short of beautiful. This lineup perfectly complements the Mingus compositions and is a great follow-up to that album. And Joni's vocals and phrasing are at their peak. Complaints? I'd rather see the musicians than video clips of James Dean and Joni in a big bird suit. Also the camera work leaves a bit to be desired, with achingly slow pans and a few bad angles. Finally, why can't they give us the whole concert? The first U.S. version of the CD is missing 3 songs that were on the double LP. The video is only 60 minutes long, and doesn't have all the songs from the double LP. The new U.S. double CD has the 3 songs restored, but we never hear the Jaco solo on CD or album. I heard news (on a Jaco web site) of a Japanese re-release in 1999 (VHS-75 min.) which adds Hejira at the conclusion of Amelia/Pat's Solo, and another song...this piecemeal stuff is maddening. But these are minor points. However you get to see or hear it, this is a bright moment in time with the best group of players I've ever seen together. A must for anyone who likes any or all of these musicians. Again--RELEASE THIS ON DVD!"
Music sublime, video substandard
R. Clark | Ridley Park, PA United States | 06/28/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, it's Joni at the peak of her powers, backed by musicians who would become legends, if they weren't already. And if you close your eyes you can lose yourself in it.Open your eyes, and chances are even you won't see what you expect. Pastorius, Brecker, and Alias play an incredible blues jam, but the video is a bunch of poorly-shot b-roll of the Vegas Strip. "Hejira" is a music video with ice skaters. A stunning performance of "Amelia" is obscured with archival footage of the flyer, which itself obscures the meaning and metaphor of the lyric. Yes, it's a product of its era, when concert-video producers seemed to think that watching the musicians play would somehow bore the audience, but that doesn't help now. There were moments when I wanted to throw a brick through the TV screen, I was so frustrated by hearing incredible playing that I wasn't allowed to see because somebody thought some old movie clip would be more interesting.5 stars for the music. 1 star for the video."
Why is Warners holding this one back?
Alan Forbess | Ojai, California | 01/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Someone at Warner Home Video needs to pull their head out and get this amazing concert film back on the shelves! This is Joni at her best with the greatest backing group of musicians in history! Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker and Don Alias provide an amazing platform for Joni's songs to spring from. And it's all set in the beautiful Santa Barbara County Bowl, one the great outdoor ampitheaters in the world. Plus Joni has added some interesting visuals, not to mention snipets of James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" to liven up this wonderful piece. So why can't you or I buy it? Warner's has kept it out of print and is really dropping the ball on this one. Send them a nasty e-mail and tell them to reissue it now in DVD and VHS!"
Excellent, but too short!
G. C. Todd | Memphis | 01/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is wonderful; a real "must have". Metheny, Pastorius, and company are terrific with Joni; however, the DVD (a short single disc) should have at least provided us with some bonus footage or interviews of participants from this legendary tour. There must be some great additional film buried in a vault somewhere. What a shame."
Joni Mitchell and Jazz
Stuart Morris | COLLEGEVILLE, PA USA | 03/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With and allstar cast including, Jaco Pastorious, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mayes,and Don Alias, and Joni's vocals, this is her music taken to a new and different level.
The precision and tightness with which this ensemble of brilliant jazz musicians integrates with Joni's music and vocals is incredible. One only needs to listen to "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" on this DVD to apppreciate the musical skill assembled here as well as the musical evolution of Joni Mitchell.
Buy it, watch it, listen to it, and be totally amazed by the way these incredible musicians wrap themselves around the music and lyrics of the most talented and musically diverse Joni Mitchell. This music is played as tightly and skillfully as anything you will ever hear, and enjoy the Jaco Solo."