“This is a project very dear to my heart as I adore Joni Mitchell, Colin has absolutely nailed it! “
Ian Shaw (Jazz FM)
"vividly toned and textured instrumental re-imaginings of the songs of Joni Mitchell, through which you can virtually hear the singer herself, voiced by that muted trumpet." The Scotsman
I am delighted to announce that Marina Records will release the latest Colin Steele Quartet recording on 18th September - “Joni - Jazz Interpretations of the Joni Mitchell Songbook” (MARINA MA 89)
I was a latecomer to the joy of Joni’s music. 25 years old to be precise, it was right at the time my daughter Nicky was born in Rome, the soundtrack of her early life was Joni and every day "the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses". Nine years later, as my wife was wheeled into the theatre for an emergency C section, the music being played was ‘Bat out of Hell’. I asked if we could listen to something more appropriate, a nurse offered to grab a CD from my bag, which was in another room - I asked her to bring Miles’ Kind of Blue, but instead she brought Joni’s Blue, and my son Louis arrived in the world to the words of Little Green: "There'll be icicles and birthday clothes, and sometimes there'll be sorrow."
As most Joni fans will tell you, there is an emotional depth, a purity to her music that is unique. Of course the lyrics are crucial, so as we are performing everything instrumentally I had to find a way of interpreting her melodies in the most lyrical way I could. Often I am literally singing her lyrics into the trumpet, some were relatively easy, others were a monumental challenge, California and Hejira immediately come to mind!
Her music comes from such a place of love and creativity, I knew it was crucial that the band truly understood what we were doing, so I was overjoyed to hear that Calum, Dave and Alyn all already loved her - they could not have been more enthusiastic about the project!
There were so many tunes I wanted to play, but all my favourites come from the first decade of her work: including the first track on her debut album Song to a Seagull, two from Clouds, four from Blue and one each from Court and Spark and Hejira. As always, Dave Milligan did an outstanding job on the arrangements, and bassist Calum Gourlay offered to arrange ‘A Case of You’, which had not previously been one of my favourite Joni songs, but it was after hearing Calum’s arrangement!
I suggested the project to Roger Spence, the director of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, who was really enthusiastic about it, so we were able to perform the music for the first time at 2019 Edinburgh Jazz Festival, to a fabulous response. After the gig lots of people were asking if we were going to do a recording, then to my delight, a fan enjoyed it so much that he offered to fund it! I then went to my previous record company, Marina, and asked Stefan Kassel if he would be willing to design an album cover for me, but he and his partner, Frank Laehnemann instead kindly offered to release the album - even though they had been planning on quitting the music business after 25 years! Everything was perfectly in place.
We had an outstanding day of recording, in early December 2019. The trio played beautifully, creatively and with so much sensitivity, truly a dream band. And as always the sound was captured perfectly by Castlesound engineer, Stuart Hamilton.
It has been a dream to play these beautiful songs with these wonderful musicians, I am so happy to release this , I hope you enjoy listening.
It is, of course, all dedicated to the amazing being that is Joni Mitchell.