Your Amazon Music account is currently associated with a different marketplace. To enjoy Prime Music, go to Your Music Library and transfer your account to (US).
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for up to $1.10
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon

Image Unavailable

Image not available for
  • River: The Joni Letters (with Bonus Tracks) - Exclusive
  • Sorry, this item is not available in
  • Image not available
  • To view this video download Flash Player

River: The Joni Letters (with Bonus Tracks) - Exclusive Special Edition

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Listen Instantly with Amazon Music Album
Other Formats & Versions Amazon Price New from Used from
Audio CD, Special Edition, September 25, 2007
"Please retry"
$29.94 $8.79

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This exclusive version of River: The Joni Letters includes two bonus tracks, "All I Want" featuring Sonya Kitchell and "A Case of You."

The legendary pianist and innovator Herbie Hancock explores the words and music of another musical pioneer, Joni Mitchell, on his first new studio recording for Verve since 1998's GRAMMY® award-winning Gershwin's World.

Inspired in equal parts by Mitchell's poetic lyrics and unique melodies, Hancock and saxophone giant Wayne Shorter play with a restraint and elegance that achieves a perfect balance between the adventurous aesthetics of jazz improvisation and the emotional directness of the finest Adult Pop music.

Hancock builds upon his (and Shorter's) previous collaborations with Ms. Mitchell to create a sound that will appeal not only to fans of both artists, but to the listener familiar with the work of Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae and the other brilliant guest vocalists featured on this session. River: The Joni Letters is the perfect CD for the music fan looking for something new that's based in the familiar.

On paper, River sounds like a match made in several versions of heaven. Legendary pianist Herbie Hancock re-imagines Joni Mitchell with his hand-picked, star-studded band--including saxophonist Wayne Shorter--in tow. Luminary guests lend vocals to a song apiece: Norah Jones ("Court and Spark"), Tina Turner ("Edith and the Kingpin"), Corinne Bailey Rae ("River"), Luciana Souza ("Amelia"), Leonard Cohen (with an unsettlingly sanguine version of "The Jungle Line"), even Mitchell herself ("Tea Leaf Prophecy"). In the event, though, a few fundamental elements go awry. Hancock plays with almost saccharine understatement throughout, and even Shorter's seminal "Nefertiti" and Duke Ellington's "Solitude" fall into the album's presiding, somnolent surface, though to a lesser degree does the instrumental version of Mitchell's "Sweet Bird." But girding, and in some measure, saving, the proceedings, the lyrics here testify to a subtler wisdom guiding Hancock's set list. The mix includes a continuum from intrepid classics to dusty, fans-only fare, but a distinct reverence for Joni Mitchell the Poet threads them together, and, in the end, this album works best as a sleepy window into one fan's giddy and particular love affair with his source material. Fans of Hancock win out. --Jason Kirk

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Court And Spark [feat. Norah Jones] 7:35Album Only
  2. Edith And The Kingpin [feat. Tina Turner] 6:32$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Both Sides Now 7:38Album Only
  4. River [feat. Corinne Bailey Rae] 5:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Sweet Bird 8:15Album Only
  6. The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms) [feat. Joni Mitchell] 6:34$1.29  Buy MP3 
  7. Solitude 5:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Amelia [feat. Luciana Souza] 7:26Album Only
  9. Nefertiti [feat. Wayne Shorter] 7:30Album Only
10. The Jungle Line [feat. Leonard Cohen] 5:01$1.29  Buy MP3 
11. A Case Of You (Short Version) 7:37Album Only
12. All I Want 4:15$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: September 25, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Special Edition
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B000V9RRPQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,834 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Freeman on September 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Joni Mitchell has enjoyed a year of industry fans paying tribute to her, those whom she considers her "true peers", the artists who recognize the genuis of her work. Herbie Hancock has assembled a cast of players fit for the high bill of interpreting songs from an artist whose career has been a fluid exploration, much as Hancock employs a fluid sensibility to his arrangements on many of these classics.

Norah Jones opens the show with her rendition of " Court and Spark". It is a fine song in its own right; the only complaint may be that the immediacy of Joni's version is lost here. Composed in Canada, as a response to an actual experience, this song may have been better left off the list. When Mitchell speaks in first person, it's almost an impossible task for another to come in and half way rival the intense delivery, the plumbing of the depths that must occur when Mitchell sings the lyrics she has clearly lived.

Tina Turner purrs through "Edith and the Kingpin", making it the cover that it ought to be. This song demands either the original interpretation or an alternative that gets to the grit of the subject matter by sheer quality of voice. Turner was a perfect choice for this song.

Corrine Baily Rae is another highlight, singing " River" in a way that puts her stamp on the song, yet maintains the integrity of Joni's original release. Perhaps there is a bias on my part, with this being one of my all-time favorite Mitchell songs, but as noted in my review of this year's earlier Tribute, the version on that disc sounded reworked to the point that there were no longer vestigages of Joni left, although it sounded just like a James Taylor original would, leaving it a good song. However, on a tribute, that's far from the point.
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
57 of 67 people found the following review helpful By LuelCanyon on October 30, 2007
Format: Audio CD
A perfect disc. Tina Turner's take on Edith and the Kingpin moves right into legend. Herbie applies his Mind to Joni Mitchell and mind to mind, art to art, something extraordinary quickens. Call the disc subdued, the better to raise an art. Here are two artists not led by their public, which is to say by fame. What happens therefore is something that reaches, and something worthwhile. Hancock takes Tea Leaf Prophecy and leads Joni back to her jazz self. Very cool. His playing throughout is musically mature, free, unafraid, especially in a redefining 'Both Sides Now' and a ravishing take on Mitchell's musically ebullient 'I Had a King', the two lengthiest tracks on the disc. In the end, and even inbetween, this is Herbie Hancock at peace, and he paints Joni Mitchell with master strokes. &check out T Turner's brilliant turn on Edith! It's a time-stopping bit of pure art that defines the reason for the record. Take your hat off, and your shoes.

2/10: CONGRATS Herbie! An Album of the Year Grammy for River! Like I said, it's a perfect disc.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Juan Mobili on February 11, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Herbie Hancock mining musical forms outside the Jazz canon should not be either a surprise nor source for concern among traditionalists. Whether exploring Electronica harder and more boldly that most of his contemporaries in the Seventies--except, of course, for Miles--or getting involved with Hip-Hop or nodding to Pop, Hancock's work may not always be of everyone's liking but it can always claim honesty and quality.

With Joni Letters, this is confirmed ... more yet, this is taken to another level of excellence. Having worked with Mitchell already in her album dedicated to Charles Mingus tunes, Herbie returns to Joni's songbook to reinterpret it, to sculpt new possibilities out of her poems--to call them lyrics might leave you with a limited impressions of the beauty and depth of her words.

The arrangements are bold yet always faithful to the originals. Edith and The Kingpin--probably the best track in an album full of gems--turned into a dark Jazz ballad and sung remarkably well by Tina Turner, Leonard Cohen reading The Jungle Line with a sense of sinisterness that those lyrics may not have revealed before, or his treatment of Both Sides Now are sufficient proof of it.

In addition to these tracks there's plenty more to bow to. Luciana Souza's rendition of Amelia is impeccable and soulful as well as River sung by Corinne Bailey Rae--although my nod for best version still goes to Madeline Peyroux and kd lang.

Last but definitely not least, there's Wayne Shorter sounding as lyrical and fierce in all the right places, and master Hancock himself. Herbie's playing is truly stunning throughout the record, confirming yet again his place among the greatest pianists of any genre.

If you are into Jazz but not Joni, this is where you'd want to come in. Even if the opposite is so for you, again, this is the right door to open. Welcome to the work of two geniuses.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hodgins on November 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Lovers of jazz will need no introduction to Herbie Hancock. Maverick pianist from the days of the Miles Davis quintet, preferred keyboardist of the Davis fusion years and central energy of the seminal funk-jazz crossover album Head Hunters. Herbie Hancock has never been afraid to experiment with forms and genres, to explore the possibilities inherent in different musics. However fans of Joni Mitchell may not be so well acquainted with his work. Though Joni has never been an artist to shy away from incorporating elements of jazz into her folk and rock idiom she has never quite made the step from those idioms to jazz.. All of which makes the new Herbie Hancock recording, River: The Joni Letters an intriguing listen.

For this album Herbie Hancock has assembled an eclectic mix of musicians. Saxophonist Wayne Shorter, his fellow traveller from the fusion years, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and west-African guitarist Lionel Loueke. There are also appearances by a number of leading luminaries, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Norah Jones and Leonard Cohen. Mitchell herself guests on a track.

Projects like this can go astray, fall between the contrasting drives of their respective genres. Yet it is to Hancock's credit that this album delivers. It manages an adroit balance between accessibly and improvisation without sacrificing musical integrity. It plays with Hancock's jazzier instincts and the limitations of the rock and folk idiom. It elaborates on the subtlety of Joni Mitchell's melodies and provides a sophisticated setting for her often quite excellent lyrics. It manages to be neither a Joni Mitchell album nor a Herbie Hancock album. Instead it occupies a space somewhere between the two.

That is not to say it is without flaws.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Have something you'd like to share about this product?
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?