Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder & More: My Albums of the Week #39

I would consider myself an “albums guy” and my taste in music is very varied. In this new feature, I list the albums that I listened to most intensely during the week. The list will include albums old and new, and the number of albums listened to every week will most likely vary on a week-to-week basis.

 

Stevie Wonder
Songs in the Key of Life
1976, Tamla ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Love’s in Need of Love Today // 2 – Have a Talk with God // 3 – Village Ghetto Land // 4 – Contusion // 5 – Sir Duke // 6 – I Wish // 7 – Knocks Me Off My Feet // 8 – Pastime Paradise // 9 – Summer Soft // 10 – Ordinary Pain // 11 – Isn’t She Lovely // 12 – Joy Inside My Tears // 13 – Black Man // 14 – Ngiculela – Es una historia – I Am Singing // 15 – If It’s Magic // 16 – As // 17 – Another Star

Arguably Stevie Wonder’s finest hour. Melody, groove and stellar instrumentation… from tender ballads to heavy funk tunes, this album’s got it all.

 

Ryuichi Sakamoto
1996
1996, For Life ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – A Day a Gorilla Gives a Banana // 2 – Rain // 3 – Bibo no Aozora // 4 – The Last Emperor // 5 – 1919 // 6 – Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence // 7 – M.A.Y. in the Backyard // 8 – The Sheltering Sky // 9 – A Tribute to N.J.P. // 10 – High Heels (Main Theme) // 11 – Aoneko no Torso // 12 – The Wuthering Heights // 13 – Parolibre // 14 – Acceptance // 15 – Before Long // 16 – Bring Them Home

Ryuichi Sakamoto rearranges some of his most famous compositions, plus two new ones, for piano, cello and violin. The result alternates from intimate to spectacular and is, certainly, beautiful.

 

Joni Mitchell
Blue
1971, Reprise ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – All I Want // 2 – My Old Man // 3 – Little Green // 4 – Carey // 5 – Blue // 6 – California // 7 – This Flight Tonight // 8 – River // 9 – A Case of You // 10 – The Last Time I Saw Richard

Joni Mitchell bares her soul on this legendary set of beautiful songs with light instrumentation and profound lyrics, many auto-biographical. Truly one of the great folk singer/songwriter records of its time.

 

Codona
Codona
1979, ECM ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Like That of Sky // 2 – Codona // 3 – Colemanwonder // 4 – Mumakata // 5 – New Light

Transcendental improvisation music by star multi-instrumentalists Don Cherry, Collin Walcott, and Nana Vasconcelos. A beautiful blend of Indian classical music and jazz and among the best improvisational releases on ECM of this time.

 

Veronica Swift
This Bitter Earth
2021, Mack Avenue ⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – This Bitter Earth // 2 – How Lovely to Be a Woman // 3 – You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught // 4 – Getting to Know You // 5 – The Man I Love // 6 – You’re the Dangerous Type // 7 – Trust in Me // 8 – He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss) // 9 – As Long As He Needs Me // 10 – Everybody Has the Right To Be Wrong // 11 – Prisoner of Love // 12 – The Sports Page // 13 – Sing

No more, no less than the typical pleasant collection of standards and covers with nice arrangements. Veronica Swift struggles on a couple of tunes.

 

Chet Baker & Paul Bley
Diane
1985, SteepleChase ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – If I Should Lose You // 2 – You Go To My Head // 3 – How Deep Is the Ocean? // 4 – Pent-Up House // 5 – Everytime We Say Goodbye // 6 – Diane // 7 -S Skidadlin’

Noteworthy duo date between two titans: Chet Baker on trumpet and Paul Bley on piano. It’s worth mentioning that while Baker does his thing, Bley is content to mostly just cover the whole rhythm section for him. Around this time, of course, Baker recorded mostly without drums, which was a good choice that brought his trumpet work even more to the fore and intensified his characteristic, smooth and unrushed aura.

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