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The Colours of Joni | album

The Colour of Joni | Redtenbacher's Funkestra | album

THE COLOURS OF JONI | ALBUM

‘The Colours of Joni’ album is the lastest collection of Joni Mitchell instrumental re-imaginations by Redtenbacher’s Funkestra. It goes hand-in-hand with their ‘Both Sides Now | Joni reimagined’ album featuring a stellar cast of top vocalists like Rumer, Hamish Stuart, Jo Harman, Sarah Jane-Morris, Mim Grey, Mike Mayfield and Jana Varga.

GET THE CD DELUXE PACKAGE HERE (INCL. FREE DOWNLOAD).

You can also get the simple cardboard sleeve CD album HERE (also including free download).

WATCH ‘THE COLOURS OF JONI’ VIDEO PLAYLIST HERE.

These live-in-the-studio Masterlink Sessions videos showcase the top class musicianship of this stellar ensemble and their guests.

Liner Notes

Sometime back in the 80s I came to the music of Joni Mitchell via Jaco Pastorius. Being an aspiring bassist and seeing Jaco in concert in my hometown in 1986 rocked my path forever. Weather Report were true heroes, Joe Zawinul and the late Wayne Shorter were magicians and then there was ‘Bright Size Life’ with Pat Metheny – just wow!

Consequently, I had to check out everything else that Jaco had played on. This bought me to 70s classics ‘Shadows and Light’, ‘Mingus’ and ‘Hejira’. These three records were on heavy rotation and yet somehow I had no idea about the 60s singer/songwriter Joni nor the 80s one, as songs without ‘heavy’ bass or a virtuoso band were not of much interest in my formative years. Joni, with the most heavy-hitter musicians of the 70s, filled my world.

It wasn’t until my wife was playing ‘Blue’ on repeat, years ago in our tiny Notting Hill flat, that my Joni horizon broadened significantly. Without fail Joni’s music and words really got under my wife’s skin and eventually under mine. Decades on, I don’t know where my accolades for Joni might stop. I got into her records, her arrangements, her unique approach to playing guitar and the resulting harmonic structures, the at times angular high flying melodies, her artwork, poetry, her emotional universe and so much more. In short, an incredible all-round artist controlling her own artistic destiny. To me as great as any of the composers of the classic American songbook. That she won the Gershwin prize in 2023 is just about right and I wonder, what took them so long?

I never in a million years dreamt that I would create and record not one but two Joni albums. The starting point of the journey for ‘Both Sides Now’ (an homage to the songs of Joni Mitchell) and this, ‘The Colours of Joni’ album, are the same, an instrumental trio ‘Masterlink Sessions’ video with UK Hammond organ wizard Ross Stanley. He really seemed to conjure up some sincere emotions with his interpretation of ‘A Case of You’. And this is where it all started.

Next thing we recorded a vocal version of a case of you with Jo Harman after her manager Mark Ede heard the instrumental one and saw the emotional potential in our re-imagination.

At this point we thought it might be fun to record all the songs from ‘Blue’, this by coincidence also going hand in hand with the 50 year celebrations since its release in 1971.

We started to talk to many artists and musicians and it soon transpired that most of them had their favourite Joni song, album or decade. ‘Only’ recording songs from ‘Blue’ seemed a little restrictive as we thought each artist should be able to bring maximum meaning and heart to the performance.

We recorded a few more vocal and instrumental songs and soon it became clear that it would probably be too much of a stretch for the instrumental re-imaginations and vocal ones to sit side by side on the same album. The idea of two separate records was born. This allowed the vocal album ‘Both Sides Now’ to be soulful with Americana and Blues elements, and for the instrumental one to take some of the arrangements still further from Jonis’ originals, sailing less close to the wind, musically speaking. However, there’s still plenty of soul.

Some tunes like ‘The Fiddle and The Drums’ and ‘The Jungle Line’ are re-imaginations whilst tunes like ‘River’ and ‘A Case Of You’ stay closer to the originals.

All the featured artists brought plenty of love for the music of Joni without being restricted by their reverence. Always a fine line when taking on classic songs. Some listeners will be married to the original sound recordings, some will be embracing of both and some will welcome new interpretations of classic songs like Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ or in more recent decades tunes from vintage video games like ‘Super Mario Bros’ (8-bit Big Band). After all there is a tradition in music creation to take on the greatest songs from previous times and reinterpret them, keeping the gospel of great tunes alive, becoming disciples of classic singer-songwriter repertoire, hopefully enchanting the older and also younger generations. I hope all this is the case of our ‘The Colours of Joni’ album.

We also feel hugely privileged that Joni is still around and is receiving all the love, prizes and accolades she truly deserves. She really has conjured a creative universe of her own and what a joy to live within it.

Track-by-Track

BOTH SIDES NOW (ft. Varga Quartet Vienna)

The Varga Quartet Vienna performing the opening for ‘Both Sides Now’ from Joni Mitchell’s album ‘Clouds’, first released in 1969.

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • 
Palo Varga | violin I
  • Katarína Veselská | violin II
  • Peter Zwiebel | viola
  • Stefanie Huber | cello

String arrangement by Pete Whitfield

THE WOLF THAT LIVES IN LINDSEY (ft. Ross Stanley)

Ross Stanley is well known for his sublime playing on the Hammond organ. Here he is featured on Fender Rhodes taking on this song from the ‘Mingus’ album, first released in 1979, entirely dedicated to him and his final musical project.

Of the darkness in men’s minds – what can you say… (Joni Mitchell)

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Carter Arrington | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Tony Remy | guitar
  • 
Ross Stanley | Fender Rhodes
  • Mike Sturgis | drums
  • Karl Vanden Bossche | percussion

Arranged by Stefan Redtenbacher

THE FIDDLE AND THE DRUM (ft. Ross Stanley)

‘The Fiddle and The Drum’ originally an all ‘a cappella’ version by Joni Mitchell from her 1969 album ‘Clouds’ – an anti-war song, as relevant as ever.

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Carter Arrington | guitar
  • Joel Barford | drums
  • Karl Vanden Bossche | percussion
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Ross Stanley | Hammond organ, Wurlitzer

Arranged by Stefan Redtenbacher

I DON’T KNOW WHERE I STAND (ft. Pat Levett)

“Whilst looking for a Joni Mitchell song that would be a good fit, I was reminded of the singers unlimited arrangement of ‘I don’t know where I stand’. Knowing the amazing Anthony Kerr would be playing vibes I thought the arrangement would translate well with our lineup.” (Pat Levett)\

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Anthony Kerr | vibraphone
  • Pat Levett | harmonica
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Tony Remy | guitar
  • Mike Sturgis | drums

Arranged by Pat Levett and Stefan Redtenbacher

BLACK CROW (ft. Tucker Antell)

This ‘Black Crow’ re-imagination features tenor sax virtuoso Tucker Antell. The song is from Joni’s pivotal 1976 ‘Hejira’ album featuring the legendary Jaco Pastorius on electric bass.

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Tucker Antell | tenor sax
  • Fergus Gerrand | percussion
  • 
Luke Harris | drums
  • Gunther Kurmayr | Wurlitzer
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Tony Remy | guitar

Arranged by Stefan Redtenbacher

A CASE OF YOU (ft. Ross Stanley)

Outstanding Hammond organ player Ross Stanley interpreting the much revered Joni Mitchell classic ‘A Case Of You’ from the album ‘Blue’ released in 1971.

This was the first social distanced Masterlink Session inside the main recording room at the Masterlink Productions studio since the beginning of March 2020. So good to be back for all involved. This was our only take for a ‘live-stream-pilot’.

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

Stefan Redtenbacher – bass
Ross Stanley – Hammond organ
Mike Sturgis – drums

BIG YELLOW TAXI (ft. Mike Outram, Tony Remy)

The first time I came across ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ was on Janet Jackson’s ‘Got ’til it’s gone’ from her 1997 ‘The Velvet Rope’ album, produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, featuring rapper Q-Tip. It was a lot of fun to create an instrumental re-imagination with UK top guitarists Tony Remy and Mike Outram.

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Pete Billington | Wurlitzer
  • Karl Vanden Bossche | percussion
  • Mike Outram | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Tony Remy | guitar\
  • Ross Stanley | Hammond
  • Mike Sturgis | drums

Arranged by Tony Remy and Stefan Redtenbacher

NIGHT RIDE HOME (ft. Pat Levett)

“I’ve always loved this song, such a great melody to play. It was great how collectively we found a way to give it a different feel, turned put to be a very pleasant surprise!” (Pat Levett)

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Anthony Kerr | vibraphone
  • Pat Levett | harmonica
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Tony Remy | guitar
  • Mike Sturgis | drums

Arranged by Pat Levett and Stefan Redtenbacher

MY OL’ MAN (ft. Carter Arrington)

Austin/Texas guitar man Carter Arrington takes on ‘My old Man’ from the 1971 album ‘Blue’. Originally about Joni’s relationship with Graham Nash – our version is taking on a brighter and joyful feel, perhaps creating a celebratory ode to freedom, following restrictive relationships.

“This was a fairly happy take on My Old Man, which felt appropriate due to the nature of the lyrics. The joy and dreaminess of domestic life she was reflecting on with Graham Nash is celebratory and uplifting for most of the song, while the bridge conveys the grief and loss experienced when that dream fades. I still wake up with that bridge in my head all the time; it has such a haunting and memorable quality to it. I am very grateful for the opportunity to explore this tune with such gifted musicians.” (Carter Arrington)

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Carter Arrington | guitar
  • Emily Francis | Wurlitzer
  • Fergus Gerrand | percussion
  • Doug Harper | drums
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Pete Whittaker | Hammond organ

Arranged by Carter Arrington and Stefan Redtenbacher

THE JUNGLE LINE (ft. Orphy Robinson)

“There is so much fantastic music from the vast Joni Mitchell catalogue. I felt by approaching ‘Jungle Line’ as an instrumental I might be able to explore a different sound world and bring some other ethereal vibes to the proceedings.” (Orphy Robinson)

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Carter Arrington | guitar
  • Karl Vanden Bossche | percussion
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass guitar
  • Tony Remy | guitar
  • Orphy Robinson | Vibraphone
  • Ross Stanley | Hammond organ
  • Mike Sturgis | drums
  • James Welch | storm drum

Arranged by Tony Remy and Stefan Redtenbacher

RIVER (ft. Simon Johnson, Mike Outram)

Two brilliant and wonderfully contrasting UK guitarists are interpreting one of Joni’s most revered songs from the 1971 album ‘Blue’.

MUSICIANS
(in alphabetical order of last name)

  • Simon Johnson | guitar
  • Anders Olinder | Hammond
  • Mike Outram | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Sarah Brandwood-Spencer | violin
  • Mike Sturgis | drums
  • Simon Turner | cello
  • Pete Whitfield | violin, viola

string arrangement by Pete Whitfield

THANK YOUS

First and foremost, the great and pivotal artist that is Joni Mitchell. All the wonderful artists and musicians who have contributed so sincerely to this record, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and offering their considerable talents. Special shout-out to the live band: Carter Arrington on guitar, Pete Billington on keys and long-standing and groovilicous Funkestra Mike ‘The Oracle’ Sturgis on drums and Karl Vanden Bossche on percussion.

Most of the tunes developed out of our Masterlink Sessions videos, filmed and recorded in my musical spiritual home Masterlink Productions Studio in Surrey with my key partners in crime James Welch (sound) and Leo Mansell (video). Aside from them being great pals they are also a fully integrated extension of the band – and what a team we make!

My Joni Mitchell adventures partner Mark Ede. His enthusiasm and passion for the songs of Joni is a critical part of this journey. As manager of Jo Harman, he is always keen to help brilliant musical collaborations, yet this project has grown even further, fully integrating Jo and an additional host of like-minded and brilliant artists, like Rumer and Hamish Stuart to mention but a few. An extra thank you to Mark – predominantly a ‘vocal loving man’ – for embracing my excursions deep into instrumental Jazz Funk land.

Thank you to Cathy Harrison and Nick Wass from Höfner, Max Junger from Pyramid Strings, Jesse Hoff from Lazy J Projects, Rob Blackham from Blackham Images, visual art guru Neil J Hart, Johannes Pöhlmann and Tobias Helmlinger from Vincent Basses, Herman Gerlach from Harvest Fine Leather Guitar Bags, Peter-Paul van Kouteren and Manfred Eich from Eich Amplification and Mike Hellier from Movinmusic Agency.

My wife, friends and family who have put up with my intense craziness around this project – big love and respect for hanging in there with me – a borderline possessed man isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and you know that ultimately I only answer to the gods of music, well, and my personal supreme leader:-)

Last but certainly not the least, all the people and fans who have supported me and the music of the Funkestra for years and some for decades; old and new friends and fellow Joni fans who like, share, support, purchase, inspire, clap and whistle at shows as well as a plethora of other supportive activities, including telling me what might not be their cup of tea. It’s all welcome! The biggest ‘enemy’ for an indie artist is ignorance – getting no feedback at all:-) Thank you for your engagement and support.

Keep on watching the videos, listening to the music, coming to shows and say ‘hi’. You are all always welcome!

CREDITS

Recorded and mixed by James Welch (Masterlink Productions)
Mixed by Tim Debney (Fluid Mastering)
Video filmed by Leo Mansell (Shoot and Splice Films)
All songs written by Joni Mitchell (Black Crow Music)
Arranged and produced by Stefan Redtenbacher (except where indicated)
Artwork by Michael Bendure (‘Supra-Nova’, acrylic and gypsum paste on canvas, 48” x 48”, July 2022)
Photos by Rob Blackahm (except where indicated)
Graphic design by Neil J Hart
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